[from The A.V. Club Chicago / August 10, 2009]
As reported today, Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane was arrested early Sunday morning in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., after he and his cousin allegedly assaulted a 62-year-old cab driver in a dispute over a $13.80 cab ride. Resulting in second-degree robbery, fourth-degree criminal mischief, and theft-of-services charges for Kane, the incident stands to cast a dark shadow over the All-Star’s burgeoning career as well as the improved, youthful image of his newly revitalized team, regardless of what conclusion Kane’s legal troubles reach. (And The A.V. Club reminds you that Kane remains innocent until proven guilty.) While Blackhawks fans lament Kane’s fate, a cab driver wonders why someone allegedly punched him in the face, and criminal-justice pundits rue the realities of “celebrity crime,” The A.V. Club searches for the silver lining in the young star’s bad news.
The Blackhawks just got a lot scarier
Of the many criticisms leveled at the Blackhawks during last year’s playoff run, none proved truer than the notion that the Hawks were too young and soft to hang with the grizzled, combat-ready likes of the Detroit Red Wings, Calgary Flames, and Vancouver Canucks. Detroit’s constant mauling of the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals offers more than enough proof of this, but the opposition might want to tread a little more lightly in the future: If word on the street says Kane won’t hesitate to go after a 62-year-old over a few dollars, what kind of primal fear might consume Nicklas Kronwall as he sails into the boards?
The much-needed big-picture narrative
In the pantheon of sports-journalism clichés, “trying to put something behind him” ranks right up there with “having something to prove” and “overcoming an obstacle.” It’s not as serious as Lance Armstong’s battle with cancer, but a well-publicized, off-ice drama takes Kane out of the regular class of player and into the vaunted “guy with a backstory” class. Look for sportswriters to rejoice while taking whatever license possible to contextualize all of Kane’s achievements for the foreseeable future: His first goal of the 2009-2010 season won’t just be a goal—it’ll be his first “score” since his Aug. 9 arrest.
Kane will probably be fine, regardless
It’s almost a given that athletes bounce back from legal skirmishes, often times performing even better than they did before they found themselves in handcuffs. In 2003, Kobe Bryant faced a sexual-assault charge and was ultimately acquitted; four years later, he was the NBA’s MVP. Adam “Pacman” Jones has made a second career of run-ins with the law. Even disgraced quarterback Michael Vick, once among the most publicly reviled people in the world after his dog-fighting ring came to light, has a good chance of finding work this fall. Nobody’s saying the Chicago faithful should brace for the second coming of Wayne Gretzky (or even the return of Jeremy Roenick), but history has shown athletic achievement and courtroom proceedings prefer to keep their distance.