CHICAGO – It took a couple of months, but Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane finally stepped forward Friday to confront his latest bout with bad judgment.
Kane spoke publicly for the first time about his wild Cinco de Mayo weekend at the University of Wisconsin. His visit, which was chronicled by pictures of a drunken Kane splashed across the Internet, bolstered questions that already existed about the 23-year-old’s hard-partying lifestyle.
“It was embarrassing,” Kane said. “That’s from deep down inside – from myself to my family to everyone that supported me. …
“That’s not who I want to be. I want to be a role model to kids and to everyone, for that matter. It’s something I’m looking to put behind me, and [I’m] trying to move forward and be the best person I can.”
Kane took another step toward that goal by appearing for the three-day Blackhawks Convention at the Hilton Chicago. He joined teammates such as Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland and Brent Seabrook as the team reached out to fans after another first-round playoff exit.
Although Kane denied that he had a drinking problem, he acknowledged that this summer’s controversy was not his first. He and his cousin were involved in a dispute with a taxi cab driver in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., two years ago, and more embarrassing pictures emerged from a night out in Vancouver with several teammates.
Once again, Kane said, he would try to make this mistake his last one.
“It’s something I can learn from and mature from,” Kane said. “So far, my maturation process is still something I’m trying to get better at.”
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville spoke with Kane during Friday’s convention and said he came away impressed. He said Kane had his full support.
“We’re all around for help,” Quenneville said, “whether it’s a teammate, whether it’s a coaching staff, whether it’s the organization, we’re all supportive in making sure that we all follow and move together in a proper fashion.
“We know with young kids, it’s all part your development and being a pro. Some guys’ curve is a little bit flatter, but I think eventually, everybody gets it. [By] being patient with guys, young guys in particular, eventually, it all pays off in the end.”
On the ice, Kane’s talent is impossible to miss. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft has tallied 369 points in 399 career regular-season games to go along with 52 points in 51 playoff contests.
Yet Kane’s reputation has been tarnished by photos of him apparently passed out in bar or staggering down a sidewalk. It will be up to him whether those images persist or whether his on-ice production can return to the forefront.
“We all saw the photos,” Kane said. “They were pretty embarrassing. That’s probably the biggest thing.
“Nothing illegal happened. I guess it was the offseason and you’re trying to have a good time, but like I said before, you’ve got to realize the spotlight you’re in, no matter where you are, whether it’s Chicago or Buffalo or [anywhere]. For me, in the situation I’m in now, you’ve always got to act like someone is watching you.”
Kane said he was eager to turn his focus fully toward next season.
“You see two teams after you win the Stanley Cup, and that makes you even hungrier [when] you see someone else lift up what you think is yours,” said Kane, who scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal in 2010. “I know we still have that feeling that two years ago was great, but it seems like the time has come. We want to recapture that feeling.”