VANCOUVER, British Columbia – The Blackhawks decided back in mid-September that Patrick Kane, who was part of a rape investigation at the time, was going to be a part of this team from the start this season.
He’ll also be a part of their future for a long time to come.
Kane is “absolutely” part of the Blackhawks’ long-term plans, general manager Stan Bowman said prior to the Blackhawks’ game against the Vancouver Canucks. Bowman spoke to the media on several topics, including Kane for the first time since training camp, on Saturday night.
“You can’t find talent like that,” Bowman said. “You look at what he’s done over the course of his career, whether it’s this season, last season or since he was a rookie, he won rookie of the year. He’s been a game changer. He’s one of those guys that’s, I’ve said it a lot over the years. He’s able to elevate his game in pressure moments. Not too many guys are able to do that. Sometimes when the pressure gets on, they have a hard time performing, but he’s sort of the opposite. He seems to raise his game.”
Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III announced earlier this month that the investigation was closed on Kane; no charges would be brought against him. However the situation affected Kane off the ice, it didn’t show in his on-ice performances. Kane once again got off to a strong start to the season and entered Saturday night’s game riding a career-high 15-game point streak.
Bowman was asked if he felt vindicated about the team’s decision to have Kane here from the start, considering how the investigation turned out and how Kane is playing.
“I don’t if I look at it as vindication. It’s not about that for me or for us. It’s really about just moving forward with things,” Bowman said. “Patrick has been the best player in the league. The first 20 games, he’s certainly been our best player and he’s had a lot of good starts over the years. He tends to start well. Last year, he had a really strong year up until he got injured. He sort of picked up where he left off, really and that’s the only way I would look at that. I wouldn’t characterize it as anything other than I’m happy to see the way he’s playing.”
After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.
Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.
"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.
"What was said this time around crossed the line."
The Capitals released a statement about the incident:
"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."
The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.
Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.
"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."
The Capitals released the full interview.
Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.
Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.
Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:
After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: