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.