August 17, 2009
After today's Olympic camp orientation session, USA Hockey got its wish as no reporters asked Patrick Kane(notes) of the Chicago Blackhawks about the specifics surrounding his assault charge in Buffalo last week.
Instead, they used that time-tested journalistic device to extend the conversation about the "off-limits" topic: How does Kane feel about all of this chaos in his life?
"You just move on, and try to get over it," said Kane (audio via Chicago Tribune). "In times like these, you live and learn and try to find out who your true friends are at a young age."
Those two sentences were more candid than his entire apology statement this morning to kick off Team USA camp in Woodridge, Ill. But when the world is ready to pounce on you, despite the fact that a grand jury still has to decide whether this thing becomes headline news or hockey legend, sometimes it might be better to stick the script -- at least when it comes to video games and Michael Vick.
From the Chicago Tribune, Patrick Kane on his concerns in life at the moment:
"At a time like this, obviously, you're worried about different things," Kane, 20, said. "Things that come into play, being on the cover of a video game or coming to a camp like this or anything that you're involved with ..."
At first we perceived you as belligerent. Now we perceive you as ... twelve.
Ouch. To be fair, making the cover of an EA Sports game is the generational equivalent of being SI's Sportsman of the Year (acknowledged jinxes included). If this lapse in judgment forced another Heatley/Sakic two-step for EA Sports ... for a guy Kane's age, it's more than just an endorsement deal riding in the balance. It's a legacy.
So that comment, we understand. We also understand his comment about relating his plight to that of Michael Vick of the Philadelphia Eagles - to a point:
"I'm watching ESPN the other day, and I'm watching Michael Vick give his speech, and after that you hear people say he's not really sorry and things like that. But going through something obviously not as bad as that but something similar, you can tell he was sorry, and that you really realize how privileged you are in times like this. It was fun for me to watch and see how sorry he was, and how happy he was to be back in the game of football."
Uh, emphasis ours.
We took it on the chin over on Twitter today from some readers who felt the Kane/Vick crisis management comparison was unfair, even though Kane's now evoked it himself.
The circumstances couldn't be more different, but it's still all about the damage control. Kane's now part of a select group of high-profile athletes that have had to play the spin game after a run-in with the law; mainly because, as Brian Burke said today, the charges are always on Page 1 and the exoneration (should there be one) is on Page 5 of the paper at best.
Kane's admission that he finds some level of enjoyment in seeing how others handle the same kind of doubts, judgments and accusations he's dealing with is totally refreshing; to hear an athlete dispense with the cliché "your heart goes out to the guy" stuff and embrace the "let's see how he weasels out of this one" vibe that most humans feel when watching these prefab apologies on ESPN or "60 Minutes."
Also refreshing: Kane's acknowledgement that, innocent or guilty, "20-Cent" going to be hearing about this stuff for the next several years ... starting today at camp.
"I saw a Dallas guy up in the front booing me pretty heavy," he said.
Just wait until they start with the props at the games. Ask Sidney.
H/T to Puck Buddy Mazarin for the photo above.