The ovation for Patrick Kane was loud and, by this point, expected. His unhindered promotion by the Chicago Blackhawks – taking part in their red carpet entrance on Madison, playing a role in the team’s Stanley Cup championship banner raising – was in keeping with the team’s increasingly brazen response to the swirl of outrage around their star, who is still under investigation (but not charged) for sexual assault in Western New York as the NHL season begins.
No matter how voluminous the social media protests, no matter how many Blackhawks fans were questioning their fandom or outright walking away from it, the United Center was Patrick Kane’s protective bubble.
"Whether it's hockey or different things, we've done a good job of kind of quieting that outside noise and focusing on what we have to," Kane told the Chicago Tribune.
There’s really no telling how loud that outside noise would have gotten had Patrick Kane, in his first regular-season game since being accused of rape, actually scored the game-tying goal against the New York Rangers in the waning moments of the third period on Wednesday night:
Toews goal currently being reviewed pic.twitter.com/2t48ni8Ht4
— Stephanie (@myregularface) October 8, 2015
The play was reviewed by the referees after no goal was signaled on the ice. The determination was that the footage was “inconclusive,” which is a kind way of saying the play had been whistled dead quickly and the puck was wedged under Henrik Lundqvist’s pad when Kane skated in and poked the puck.
The Rangers won the game, 3-2. Here’s how Kane saw the play:
— Mark Lazerus (@MarkLazerus) October 8, 2015
Kane’s line with Artemi “Bread Man” Panarin and Artem Anisimov was one of the best in the game.
It was a defeat on a night of celebration, as the Blackhawks raised their championship banner and celebrated the team that captured the Stanley Cup last season.
Here's the ceremony:
The Cup made an appearance. Highlights from the run to the championship played on the video screens. The memories seemed both vividly familiar yet, given the offseason the team has endured, coldly distant.
The Cup is ancient history for many fans. Things have changed, at least in perception. As Sarah Spain wrote on ESPNW: " I'll cheer for my team, I know that much. I'll cheer for the ones I think, but cannot truly know, are good men, and maybe not so much for those I think, but cannot truly know, are not."