God, What A Mess, On The Ladder Of Success

So I was going to kick off our season preview today, but Mark Lazerus’s column today in the Sun-Times is deserving of focus. And a lot of it. There is so much to parse out from it. If you haven’t yet, read it and come back to this.

So let’s take it on in no particular order.

-In some ways, this situation is a lot simpler than it looks, and a lot more complicated in others.

For instance, if Kane is charged, it probably works out pretty easily. He’ll be suspended by the league or Hawks or both, whoever gets there first I would imagine. And he’ll almost have certainly played his last game for the Hawks, unless through the process of finding out what the evidence during hearings and a possible triel is it is glaringly clear he is not just “not guilty,” but innocent (and there is a difference, which it feels like some people don’t get).

If he were eventually found not guilty in court, if it gets that far, there is probably still enough cover for the Hawks from what we would find out during the trial that they could move him along without too many people batting an eye. And you would probably not be wrong in thinking the Hawks already know what might become public in a court case or even farther along in this investigation and are basing their decisions on what they already know.

It’s if he doesn’t get charged at all that this gets far murkier. If the Hawks were still to trade him in that case, they’d essentially be saying they think he did it anyway. They wouldn’t say that publicly of course, but that’s certainly how it would look. Any suspension of him without a formal charge wouldn’t stand up to a grievance from the NHLPA, or at least it very likely wouldn’t. So that’s not really a route they can take, at least I don’t think they can.

Because what would the other reason be for trading him, whatever they say, really? They’d come out publicly and say something to the effect of he let us down, we made it clear what the standard he was supposed to live up to was and he didn’t do it. But if they honestly think he didn’t commit this crime, then what is it he would be being banished for? Being out late during the offseason? Having rando sex (which is what you’d be saying if you firmly believe he did not commit a crime)? Where’s the threshold exactly?

Does that mean all the other players can’t be out late? Obviously Kane’s rules are different because of his past and his place within the organization. But would other players feel socially shackled? Obviously, that’s not nearly the biggest concern or anywhere near the most important facet of this, but I am curious about it.

-Whoever Lazerus’s sources are in the organization, there’s still an element of not quite getting it from the Hawks. One source said the anti-magic words that I pointed out when this first broke aren’t appropriate, which is he “put himself in a bad situation.” The other source said, “he disrespected the team.”

Again, this is not Kane waking up in a crackhouse or something, or getting driven to somewhere he didn’t want to be or ending up clocked in a bar room brawl one of his buddies started. He is accused of being pretty much as cold and calculating as you can get, and putting someone else in a very, very awful situation. He didn’t “disrespect” the team, he’s accused of violating someone else’s body and life. The Hawks, even in their anonymous sources, should much more careful about their wording.

-The other component to Lazerus’s story is an illustration of just how image-conscious the Hawks are. Now, I’m sure it’s the policy of a lot more teams, or at least a few, that team garb must be worn during post-game and post-practice interviews. At least I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. And I also love it that Duncan Keith just doesn’t give a shit.

We’ve joked about the Big Brother view of the Hawks, and I guess we didn’t realize how close we were to the truth at times. They are quick to push out everyone’s children and family and the like. Their charity work, their off-ice events, all the things Brand over all.  Kind of puts a new light on the whole Sharp thing, if you want to look at it that way too.

I guess this is the ultimate test of that. Because let’s say Kane isn’t charged, and the Hawks trade him anyway. It would be near impossible to get anything close to equal value in return. In a year or two, are most fans going to care that they stuck to their principles or that they’ve been a first-round exit (if that)? How entrenched do they think the fandom is if they go three or four years exiting in Round 1 or not even making the playoffs? McDonough’s all about the brand and image, but that brand and image are built on a foundation of winning.

Again, hardly the most important facet of the whole story, but worth thinking about.

-While this idea of trading Kane seems to be gaining steam the past little while, and I tend to always think where there’s smoke there’s fire with the Hawks with just how protective they are of information, it’s close to an utter impossibility at the moment. Even if I think they had the balls (jury’s out), to do it right on the eve of the season? There’s almost no way to get enough back at that time. The last deal of anything near the magnitude at this time of year that I can remember is Hossa for Heatley (and that also had some non-hockey stuff involved). Teams are scraping together enough money to sign Cody Franson for one year. They’re suddenly going to blow up a portion of the team for Kane?

If they were going to do it I would have to imagine it would be in the next two weeks, even before camp begins, though that’s just a guess. And that seems like a reach with things as up in the air as they are. If things progress they can’t trade him while he’s suspended obviously.

There aren’t any quick or easy answers to any of this.

 

 

  • mazer_rackham

    Doesn’t Kane also have a full NMC as of July 1? There is pretty much no leverage the Hawks have other than “parental disapproval” to get Kane to sign off going anywhere. It’s not like they can bench him for the next 8 years.

    • ExOnMS

      Couldn’t they force his hand (if the investigation is still ongoing) by saying they will suspend him until the end of the investigation? And then inform him that Team X is willing to trade for him and put him on the ice right away?

      • SamFels

        Yeah, I feel like in this situation if it were to come up his NMC would be nothing more than a minor obstacle.

        • mazer_rackham

          I think the NHLPA would jump in immediately if they suspended him for an investigation without charges. Voynov wasn’t suspended until they arrested him IIRC.

          • Bob in EP

            They might jump, but there is a clause in the CBA that gives the league specific power to suspend him in the event of a criminal investigation.

          • mazer_rackham

            Right, but if the league suspends him then the Hawks can’t use “you’ll play right away somewhere else” as leverage, and I don’t believe he could be traded anywhere if he were suspended

          • Bob in EP

            Yeah, the dynamic between the team and the league on this whole thing is very murky.

      • wreckinball

        There is no team X

  • april o’neil

    Someone pointed this out in the comments on SCH, but I think it’s a good point and worth repeating – this is an organization that retains an ambassador who is a known wife-beater, so they’re not quite as image-conscious as they maybe seem. I don’t think they move Kane at all unless he’s charged with something – and tbh, I doubt that he will be.

    • The_Cheeb

      Don’t forget he also has a tribute statue. One difference is that this ambassador served decades as persona-non-Grata from the team, and was only welcomed back by this new regime as a kindly/friendly/reformed/appreciative/grateful elderly version of himself.

      • Get some balls

        If you ever partied with Hull since he has become an “Ambassador”, you would instantly realize that the Hawks don’t care that much about their image. Hull comes out with 4 bottles of wine for himself, drinks them, and then says crazy stuff.

        • Benny

          Lol

    • lisa simpson

      That’s a good point, but I also feel like Hull is a “If we don’t bring it up” situation. Who wears a Hull jersey to the UC or remembers watching him play? Someone in their late 50’s or 60’s? What he did is sort of par-for-the-course for that generation. (or at least a “none of my business” situation)

      As for the young fan base the team has cultivated through social media, community service, and winning, that side of Hull’s career (I would guess) isn’t common knowledge. PR is all about in the moment news spin. He’s a brand ambassador because of a pretty widespread fan apathy/ignorance.

      Google search “Bobby Hull domestic violence” and it returns a few thousand things, the top results being Bernstein, this site, and a 2002 Trib artcle. It’s not something people even know about to discuss.

      He’s also an “in the family” face; he’ll sign autographs at a suburban grocery store or a car dealership like he has since the 80s, only for the past 6 years it’s been sanctioned by the team. He’s not spotlighted on national TV on Sundays like Kane. I don’t think keeping Hull around is the organization contradicting a lot (A LOT) of PR wizardry as opposed to relying on the fact that people forgot, or just don’t know.

      • april o’neil

        Yeah, true… it IS different when it’s a current superstar. I guess what I’m trying to say is that if it’s something that will blow over eventually – which, if Kane isn’t charged with anything, it will, just like every other incident with him – they’ll probably just keep him out of the public eye as much as possible for a while.

  • Bobby Otter

    Never really thought of how big of a CF this could become if Kane isn’t charged.

    I was leaning that Kane played his last game for the Hawks, now I’m pretty sure he played his last game for the Hawks. Doubt the Hawks leak something like this if they don’t want him gone.

    • wreckinball

      If he’s not charged nothing will happen as it should be.

    • ItalianBeef

      Actually, it makes very little to no sense at all for the Hawks to leak this if they want him gone as it would only serve to drive down his trade value.

      • Bobby Otter

        Kane doesn’t have a lot of trade value right now.

      • Bobby Otter

        Also, Hawks have to start to prepare the fan base who aren’t in the “get rid of the little shithead” camp that it’s likely he won’t be back.

        • ItalianBeef

          They don’t really need to – I think a charge and/or some damning evidence would go a long way towards preparing the fan base for that. And if we don’t get either of those, then I don’t see any reason to trade him.

      • Sopel the catfish

        perhaps they are trying to drive it up? “See, there are 5 other teams that might *end* up with him, don’t you want him instead of [insert division rival team name] getting him?”

        • ItalianBeef

          Perhaps. However, I think it’s far more likely that they’re exploring the possibility of moving him in the event that this investigation doesn’t end well. It would certainly be wise for the front office to be prepared for that but that said, I think this is a case of a reporter taking something, blowing it up a bit & running with it because it’s the off-season and not only is the news slow to come out on this case but news is slow in general during these months.
          I’m more than happy to eat my words if I’m wrong, but barring any extremely damning evidence coming out of this at the least, I just don’t see the Hawks trading Kane.

          • Black JEM

            And if you are an opposing GM, and you know how image conscious the Hawks are, why not throw a line in the water and see if the Hawks panic.Smart move.

      • wreckinball

        There is no trade value now
        It’s all or nothing with the charges

  • T.M.

    what would the world be like without speculation?

  • rhodes

    For me, this situation is becoming simple.

    Whether Kane did or did not commit a crime as alleged by this girl is something at which we can only make educated guesses. We don’t know for sure. Finding out is for the police, prosecutor, and the court system.

    What we do know is that Kane went out to a local bar, drank until 3am, and invited people he didn’t really know back to his house—which in his position as an NHL pro and with his net worth is FUCKING STUPID. I can do that; he can’t. Tough shit. Goes with the territory.

    Further, I would bet dollars to donuts that many people in the organization and out have communicated this to him over the last several years.

    Based on this and his history of doing stupid shit in public, I’m afraid it’s time to move him while the moving is still somewhat good. Whatever happens beyond that with regard to his criminal guilt or innocence is his problem.

    • Get some balls

      The people on this board sound like a wet towel. He is 26 and makes $7MIL a year+. What point is there to making that money if he can’t have fun? Hockey is still a job. Live your life.

      • Bob in EP

        Yeah, it seems to be working out well for him.

        • Get some balls

          At least we can agree on that. 3 cups, $86MIL and groupies.

      • Benny

        You are not only being PAID as a PROFESSIONAL, but as one of the faces of the franchise. One of the baskets they lumped the most of their eggs in. You have the paycheck and the talent while there’s guys on the roster who have to work twice as hard as you to survive making a career in the NHL. There’s a right way and a wrong way that comes along with that responsibility, and the fact is he either doesn’t get it by this point, or doesn’t care, both being unacceptable. It’s not like he met some woman one-on-one at the Skybar and this happened. It’s well documented he stills goes out on missions with his “bros” to trophy the hottest woman willing.

      • Ed

        Too many Superstars can’t handle the fame..Kane,Jon Jones in mma,the gangster NFLer really couldn’t,the LAKing with his 8ball of coke..Kane might keep a low profile but he won’t change.7mill-Get as many 1st rounders as you can,and get a Cornerstone player.

    • Black JEM

      I’ll grant you paragraph two. In spades. It was stupid on his part.

      The rest? No charges, no movement, at all. It’s all about the ice and the puck for most of the fan base. Chicago moving a troubled asset (which has not been troubled on the ice at all or in the locker room) and losing in the first round will cause the team more grief than any of us can imagine.

  • lisa simpson

    In a vacuum, I’m fine with trading Kane

    • Sopel the catfish

      Kane for Saad and Foligno

      • The_Cheeb

        …..he said as he cracked his first beer of the weekend…..

  • Matt

    1.5 issues with the article:

    – I read somewhere (Kap and Haugh, I believe — take that for what you will) that the Hawks actually don’t really want to ask questions on what happened, because if a criminal case did indeed come up then the brass would have to testify under oath in court. They might not care if they have to do that, I suppose, but if they do, then they might not know a lot about what happened with Kane or not.

    – I think not getting equal value for Kane hurts this year but not as much after that. Kane’s talent is otherworldly but he’s also now the highest capped player in a league with the hardest salary cap. Winning is about finding surplus value, and after this year the Hawks all of a sudden have a lot of money to fill a Kane-sized hole on their roster. If the Hawks have neither Kane nor his salary, I don’t see a lot of first round exits (if that) in the next few years.

    • TerryChicago

      Someone else mentioned this to me the other day. And I definitely would not be surprised if this was something from Kap and/or Haugh, as they tend to be consistent purveyors of misinformation… but I do not think the Hawks brass would make any decisions based on getting called into court, as they would not be able to speak on anything that they find out, anyways. … all of that line of questioning would be inadmissible hearsay, unless McDonough or his staff were actually at the bar with him that night.

      • Bob in EP

        If there are substantive discussions about the facts, they are probably occurring between Kane’s lawyer and the Hawks lawyers, then communicated downstream.

  • wreckinball

    He’s not charged yet. So right now it’s no different than Take your pick Big Ben Kobe
    There is no team that’s going to offer anything at this point since he may be charged and going to jail
    So it’s wait and see same as before.

  • ItalianBeef

    I would complain about the horrible coverage but it seems to have been par for the course.
    How about we all just wait for the facts to come in and go from there? Trading Kane could end up being completely justified and it could just as easily end up being completely out of line.
    That said, I highly doubt that Kane’s standing with the Hawks is of much concern to Kane’s lawyer right now nor do I think he’s the least bit interested in complicating circumstances for his client so I’d be dollars to doughnuts that the Hawks’ brass know as little about what happened that night as do you or I.

  • Jim

    Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. Kane really shit the bed.

  • SuperHawk27

    Your link “anti-magic words that I pointed out when this first broke aren’t appropriate,” is sending me to a Predators vs Hawks kinda preivew…..not sure how this is relevant to everything that is going on with Kane.

  • Jim

    Maybe they can package him with Bickell? ha ha

    I just looked at General Fanager, who is gonna be the right winger? It drops off fast after Ovechkin, Kane, Perry…

  • Sopel the catfish

    I don’t like to play too much into speculation, however I was wondering if anyone had heard anything about the age of the girl. Either the day it broke or the next day I saw one thing on twitter that stated she was underage, but that was the only time I had seen it. I had a conversation yesterday with someone who claimed to know someone who was a neighbor of someone who works in the front office (there may have been one more “friend of a friend” in the line of information, so totally reliable right?) that said she was underage. If that is the case I would think that some jail time would be a given and a trade unlikely until he isn’t wearing black and white stripes. Again I don’t want to feed any rumor mill or BS, wondering if anyone else had heard that from any “sources”?

    • ItalianBeef

      It’s since been reported by multiple sources that the accuser is of legal drinking age so there is, as far as we know, no statutory angle here.

      • Sopel the catfish

        Thanks, that is better to hear, or rather less bad since this entire situation just blows.

        • KEK

          Yeah I think the issue was that the place he was at was known for allowing underage people in to the bar. I think we all know places like this. So that fueled speculation.

  • wreckinball

    There is no trade. This discussion is pointless
    If he’s charged bust if not no change

    • wreckinball

      Let me modify to say there is no trade unless the Hawks absolutely give Kane away
      Which is basically the same as just continuing on and waiting on the police

  • HossasPierogi

    I don’t place a lot of stock in Lazarus’ story — same old BS with no
    named sources. I read another article the other day that sounds more
    like the Blackhawks and that sounds more credible to me, even though it
    doesn’t name sources either. This article paints a different picture.
    http://www.hockeybuzz.com/blog/John-Jaeckel/Hawks-Moving-Forward/128/70684

    • wreckinball

      He’ll be in everything as long as he’s not charged

    • MySpoonIsTooBig

      LOL at a JJ article on hockeybuzz being credible

      • HossasPierogi

        Did you read it? It wasn’t sensational at all — was just matter of fact about the whole situation.

        • MySpoonIsTooBig

          Yes, I did read it. It doesn’t matter whether or not it is sensational, the notion that JJ has anything resembling an “inside source” is laughably asinine.

          JJ is very much a disciple of the Ecklund “school” of sports journalism – listen to what other people are reporting, make up something that seems logical or at least possible based on the known facts, and attribute it to an unnamed “inside source”. Then if it doesn’t come to be he can always point to the finicky nature of these sorts of things when they haven’t been finalized (ie for a trade that he predicts will happen a GM could get cold feet, or a player could decide against waiving an NMC / NTC, or any other number of things that could cause a trade to nearly go through but then fall apart) and on the rare occasion where his blind prediction actually happens he can use it as proof that he does actually have sources. He’s about as connected to the ‘Hawks front office as you or I. It’s the same general bullshit concept that fake “medium” uses in making a cold read, the fact that his article “sounds more credible” to you is the entire point.

          • HossasPierogi

            Sure but how is that any different than what Lazarus is doing? And, not knowing the guy as you seem to, how do I know he doesn’t have an inside sourse? I’m not saying either writer is the paragon of journalism; I just find the Hockey Buzz article more plausible, basically because I think the Hawks will hang on to Kane until they are absolutely forced by the circumstances to trade him or kick him to the side. And if Kane has any shred of dignity left after all is said and done, I think the Hawks will decide to rehab him or stick with him rather than move him. I think Kane is that kind of player and the Hawks are that kind of organization.

  • SnakePlissken

    I still don’t get why it’s somehow wrong to say Kane put himself in a bad situation. If he was in a room alone with a relative stranger he’s in a bad situation because she could say something happened even if nothing at all happened. If one or both of them were drinking and they did have sex he put himself in a bad situation because there could be confusion about consent.

    I read that Gretzky wouldn’t even ride in an elevator alone with a woman because he didn’t want to risk any allegation of improper behavior. Regardless of what happened afterward, Kane absolutely put himself in a bad situation the minute those girls set foot in his house. It’s just a terrible initial decision, potentially followed up by something much worse.

    • Preacher

      Not to speak for Sam, but I think he means that people are saying that what Kane did wrong–the ONLY thing he did wrong– was to put himself in a bad situation. It’s as if they’re trying to dismiss the full import of the situation. A “bad situation” vs. “criminal sexual assault.”

      • wreckinball

        I think they are emphasizing that he is only accused at this point. Not even charged. The assault is alleged
        Sure he put himself in a bad situation at a minimum
        If players were suspended for that teams would have a hard time filling their rosters
        There is no need to rush to judgment and I guess other GMs are willing to take Kane for peanuts if the Hawks are foolish enough to rush to judgment
        Note Big Ben still plays for the Steelers and is pretty good

  • Bob in EP

    In terms of expectations, it may be months before the forensic results are available. There may be existing or more urgent cases being analyzed by a small group of people.. They may not have even started on Kane.

  • brettraz

    I know it’s about 10 years ago now and a different sport, but isn’t Kobe the best corollary for this situation (or Rothlesberger). Granted–Ray Rice may have shifted the public tolerance for issues such as these. HOWEVER, sports fans are more fickle than anyone. You may or may not want to believe this, but winning in professional sports is the bottom line and most important factor. And as much as the Hawks are all about positive branding, they realize that it revolves around winning and that Kane is a truly unique talent. If there is anyway for the Hawks to feel like they can somehow salvage this relationship, I see them doing it whether they like it or not. They are smart and they realize that winning makes for short memories.

    • brettraz

      I should say winning and money are the bottom line. And they generally go hand-in-hand. Barring damning evidence they will likely realize that the short term PR hit/financial hit they may take on this will pale in comparison to the long term team and organizational financial success. Ask any Lakers fan what they think of Kobe if you don’t believe me. Kool-Aid like you wouldn’t believe.

    • KEK

      I don’t think Kobe had that background that Kane did. That is the main difference.

      His past behavior and convictions do play a role in all of this. They are all alcohol influenced events. I say this often, but it is very possible that Kane is a major alcoholic and literally has no control when he starts to drink. He already has shown a tendency towards violence in what is likely a blackout.

      As for Rothlesberger, according to wiki, this occurred during his second accusations:

      “Milledgeville Police Sergeant Jerry Blash, who had posed for a photograph with Roethlisberger earlier in the evening, was the first officer to respond. At the scene, he made a comment about the accuser to Barravecchio: “We have a problem, this drunken [expletive], drunk off her ass, is accusing Ben of rape.”

      …….

      I do wonder if we will ever find out what extent the Blackhawks went towards dealing with Kane’s issues. Was he ever sent to treatment? Were handlers ever hired (this often has to happen with celebrities dealing with addiction issues). If the Hawks just “warned” Kane and didn’t follow up with anything then that looks pretty bad. It has been clear that something is going on.

      Addiction is an egotistical and self centered disease that is rooted in denial. Statements to the effects of him mocking cab drivers or warning people that all of this “reform” was bullshit point towards this. Plus, it looks like Kane was enabled quite a bit, not to mention how much life in the juniors can really screw people up (there are stories of players not really even knowing how to cook or operate a microwave because that is all done for them).

    • wreckinball

      Just win baby. The Steelers are also one of those “get it right” organizations. Ben’s rape accusation situation was not that different than Kane and it also was not his first incident.
      A third liner would already be gone.
      There is absolutely no one who is going to give you any value for Kane now
      If he’s cleared sure but then why bother
      Ben has changed his ways and is on the way to the hall of fame
      For the rush to judgement crowd I recommend going here
      http://www.dukechronicle.com/article/2015/04/60-minutes-features-former-duke-lacrosse-coach
      I saw the 60 minutes piece, moral of the story is do not rush to judgment

  • PasUnMouton

    The priority is winning more Cups, so I don’t see how they’ll trade away this player….there will be no trading away of Kane

    Like someone said below, look at Kobe and the Lakers…or Peterson and the Vikings

  • Benny

    Without Toews, it’s a no-brainer they keep Kane and give him “one more shot”. But when you have captain sparkling headlining your roster also, it should make walking away from that new contract much easier. Truth is six years in and Kane still hasn’t gotten the message…. I’d move him, lift the cloud off the banner raising and championship, let one of these 5 teams take him on, and if the shoe does happen to fall on the other foot, how good do you look for moving the player, and how outrageously bad does one of those 5 teams look? Business wise, it’s a no-brainer. Feel bad for the Hawk fans. They say athletes aren’t role models, but this doesn’t affect just Kane, or maybe a woman. It ripples through the whole organization right down to the fans.

  • davidmuscalo

    If the Blackhawks lose Kane, their dynasty is over. It’s that simple. They will do what ever in needed to rescue Kane from his tormentor.

    • HossasPierogi

      Yes, with Toews minus Kane, we don’t win one Cup. Both have been absolutely essential and balance each other perfectly.

  • dmpartners

    triel?