Blackhawks

Erie County DA: Evidence kit in Patrick Kane case 'not tampered with'

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Erie County DA: Evidence kit in Patrick Kane case 'not tampered with'

An alleged evidence bag found at the home of Patrick Kane’s accuser’s mother is a “hoax,” Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita III said on Friday morning.

Sedita explained how the forensic evidence in the investigation “was not tampered with or compromised,” — he used video to show the timeline of evidence being dropped off at the CPS lab on August 2 — and that the bag the mother reported being left at her home did not contain a rape kit.

“Rape kits are not submitted in bags. A rape kit is a box,” said Sedita, who showed a sample rape-kit box during the press conference. “Neither bag (the plastic bag and the brown paper bag inside of it) contained a rape kit. The forensic evidence was not tampered with or compromised. The last person seen with the brown paper bag on Aug. 2 was the same person who purportedly discovered the bag on Sept. 22: the complainant’s mother.”

[MORE: Lawyer of Patrick Kane's accuser withdraws from case]

Sedita held the press conference, which lasted about 45 minutes, to discuss the office’s findings regarding the bag that was supposedly left at the mother’s home on Tuesday afternoon.

 Thomas Eoannou, who represented the victim at that time, said at a press conference that night that the accuser’s mother found the bag at the front door of her home and that he confirmed it to be authentic. But on Wednesday night Eoannou withdrew from the case because he believed there were “fabrications” in the story of how the bag was found.

The accuser’s mother, who Sedita said accompanied her daughter to the hospital for the rape-kit test on Aug. 2, was given the bag to put her daughter’s “top” in — the accuser apparently changed shirts before going to the hospital to have the rape kit done.

Sedita said that, as far as he knew, it was not a crime under New York law “to make fraudulent representations to a private person.” He added that he would check to make sure of that.

“The preliminary assessment is it’s clearly immoral, but not illegal under NY law,” he said.

Asked how he thought this would impact the investigation, Sedita said, “it depends.”

“The purpose of this investigation [of the bag left at the accuser’s mother’s home] was to see if there was evidence tampering. There was not evidence tampering,” Sedita said. “We believe a person, the complainant’s mother, is engaged in an elaborate hoax. The sins of the mother and father are not usually transferable to daughter or son. However, if complainant was involved, it could be relevant. We haven’t gotten that far yet.”

Kane has not been charged with any crime. There was supposed to be a grand jury hearing on this case in early September; that was postponed. Asked when a grand jury could see evidence, Sedita said, “the question in my mind isn’t when this case will go to a grand jury, it’s if this case will go to a grand jury.”

[RELATED: Patrick Kane's lawyer says case is 'forever tainted']

Paul Cambria, who is representing Kane in this investigation, had previously said that the evidence wasn’t compromised. He reiterated that in a press conference late this morning.

“I had no doubt that the integrity of the evidence was going to be intact,” Cambria said. “I had confidence people had collected and tested it properly. They proved that today in spades. I said that from the beginning it was a hoax.”

Sedita talked of how “bizarre” the situation has been.

“I can’t watch a football game anymore. It’s nuts. It’s just so bizarre,” he said. “I saw that press conference that Tom (Eoannou) did a few days ago, then we did the investigation, I spoke to Tom and then I started getting all these texts, emails and tweets, then breaking into the [football] game and, I don’t know how to answer it. I’ve never seen something like this before.”

Cambria said he hasn’t talked to Kane yet today on the latest events, but that he will. Cambria also talked of the cautionary tale of all of all of this.

“I think it underscores what I’ve said at the beginning: don’t jump to conclusions. Don’t be surprised by anything in a legal system,” he said. “This is clearly demonstrating you should keep an open mind until all the facts are in and any steps, links, efforts are possible in legal cases.”

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."