Written By: Erinn Casey | @erinncasey9
Member of Ball State Sports Link
On Monday June 15, 2015, the Chicago Blackhawks won their sixth Stanley cup; their third championship in six seasons, won on their home ice. Their first Stanley Cup victory on home ice.
I watched, from a desolate Buffalo Wild Wings in Muncie, Indiana as center Brad Richards set Patrick Kane up as he buried a one-timer to seal the Blackhawks’ win. I will always remember the pride I felt as time on the clock ticked down. The Blackhawks — MY Blackhawks — became a modern day dynasty team.
As this was the third Blackhawks championship I’ve seen in my life, I had an idea of what the summer was about to bring. The summer after a Stanley Cup victory is used as the team’s victory lap, with each player and member of the organization having their own day with the Cup. All this would happen after the Chicago parade and rally took place.
I was fortunate enough to have tickets to this year’s rally. After the last two championships, I had high expectations for this one. It was more than likely that Kris Versteeg would rap, Corey Crawford would toss around the F-bomb, and Patrick Kane would get the crowd going with his iconic “CHICAGOOO”.
I couldn’t wait to see the players’ personalities come out after a hard-fought season. The excitement in the air was palpable as I rode a Metra train packed with Hawks fans downtown to Union Station. It was only 8 a.m., with the parade starting at 10 a.m, and the streets were already absolutely flooded with red. The effect the Blackhawks team had — and still has — on the city of Chicago was something profound.
My friend and I walked the mile or two to Soldier Field, soaking in the sites and the anticipation. When we joined the crowd in various chants and doing the wave, I couldn’t help but smile, knowing I was a fan of one of the greatest hockey teams in the world.
The rally started with play-by-play announcer Pat Foley introducing the players one by one in number order. Occasionally a fan-favorite would stop to make a comment into the mic as he crossed the stage, and we were loving every minute of it. Foley made his way down the roster and came to number 88.
“He always likes a big stage, so Game 6, assist on the game winning goal, scored the insurance goal,” Foley said. “It’s been a joy to watch him grow, and grow up. 88, Patrick Kane!”
Patrick Kane, one of the heroes of all three championships, crossed the stage and lifted the Cup, as Soldier Field erupted in cheers. He made his way to the microphone, and simply said, “I know you said I’ve been growing up, but watch out for me in the next week.”
At the time, we Blackhawks fans thought nothing of the comment. We laughed it off thinking it was just the result after a few days of partying, and it actually added to the party atmosphere in the stadium. The entire celebration was pure joy and happiness.
Fast forward two months to August 6th. I was walking out of work, checking my phone, when I had first seen that Patrick Kane was the subject of an ongoing police investigation at his home near Buffalo, New York.
My mind began racing with the possibilities of what provoked the investigation: a fight or a drunken misdemeanor? It didn’t sit right with me, but I wasn’t overly concerned and didn’t dwell on it. But later in the afternoon, that changed. The news broke that the police investigation was actually a rape investigation.
My stomach dropped. I had a sick feeling deep inside. This can’t be true, I thought. The star of the Chicago Blackhawks, and the face of American hockey, would never commit such a crime. But as more information regarding the case slowly crept out, it began to feel real.
As a fan, I felt betrayed. Patrick Kane is a name that is frequently brought up by my family at dinner table discussions. We watched him grow up, and we idolized his skills on the ice. Although we know we are only fans, it really did feel like he was ‘one of our own’.
I remember the emotions replaced the championship buzz: disappointment, anger, and a common sense of betrayal. Even though we were still “champions”, it suddenly didn’t feel the same. The joy and excitement were just a memory, and I suddenly didn’t know how to feel about the guy who had brought us so much happiness.
Since then, not much information has been released about the incident. We may never know the truth as to what actually happened.
What we do know, is that regardless of whether or not Kane sexually assaulted the woman, he has single-handedly destroyed his image as a professional athlete, and damaged the image of the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks organization.
With every bit of news that comes out, I hope charges are not filed, but I also feel if he did do anything like what he’s accused of, he must pay the consequences. I am waiting for the process to run its course, but needless to say, I will never look back on the 2015 Stanley Cup Championship the same way. It will no longer be remembered as the year of the dynasty, but the year that Patrick Kane was accused of sexual assault.
Looking back on the past few months, I am amazed at the range of emotions I have experienced just being a fan of a particular team, and the powerful feelings sports can evoke.
With training camp beginning Friday, Kane is expected to skate. Even now, I still have such mixed emotions; excitement and anticipation of seeing Toews, Keith, Hossa and the rest of the boys back on the ice, and fear and sadness I may never feel the same way about seeing Kane in the red sweater again.
Like the rest of the fan base, I will let the process play itself out. But even as I look forward to the raising of the championship banner to be raised in a few weeks, I long for the joy and innocence of that Monday back in June.