Sunday, February 28, 2021

Patrick Kane Jersey Card

(team links go to sponsored Amazon products, player links go to related pages on my blog, news links go to source pages)

Earlier tonight, Patrick Kane became the 100th NHLer to score 400 career goals, at age 32, putting him at 1056 points in 996 regular-season games. He's definitely got another hundred in him, maybe 150. He will likely be known as the greatest American-born player in NHL history for at least 15 more years, until Auston Matthews perhaps comes making a run at the title, or someone else who hasn't been drafted yet. But Kane doesn't just score and assist on other people's goals; he's also electrifying, was an integral part of three Chicago Blackhawks Stanley Cup championships with one Conn Smythe to show for it (although I agree with his assessment that goalie Corey Crawford deserved it just as much as he did) to go with an Art Ross (league's leading scorer in points), Hart (most valuable player as voted by journalists), and a Ted Linsday Award (best player as voted by his peers).

I would not have expected all of that when he began his career, when his behaviour was problematic at best and criminal at worst, and the stories kept adding up while he was in a drunken haze for a couple of offseasons, from the assault of a cab driver (proven true) to his choking a woman at a sorority party (rumoured) to alleged anti-semetic comments (impossible to prove since the witness didn't actually witness any of it, as the altercation took place across the street from him and he couldn't hear) to a rape accusation that grew weirder and weirder with each passing day, for which he was not charged because DNA, physical evidence and forensic evidence did not back the victim's testimony (and there were lies about rape kits being delivered to the victim's mother that had the accusation's lawyer step down from the lawsuit).

Even though he was not charged with the most serious offense with evidence leaning towards the "it didn't happen" category more than the "we couldn't find the type of evidence that gets a conviction", you don't get into this type of smoke without any fire, and he did put himself into bad situations as a young adult. The fact that he was allowed to be given room to change is a positive, although I do wonder if he'd have had the same chance had he been Black in the United States. But that's yet another debate for another day.

What today brings, however, is the Kane dichotomy: I haven't been able to recognize his accomplishments on the ice as the second-highest points-per-game average of any American player ever with the fact that he also had a rough patch from 2012 to 2015 that, yes, cost him endorsement deals, but had they all been proven true would have made him one of the most despised individuals in professional sports. I don't want to "cancel him" altogether for many reasons (including "innocent until proven guilty" and "if you've paid for your crime, you can have another shot at Life", but also because I don't believe "cancelling" is always the best option), but I don't want to whitewash history either. I would like it if we could find "pure" people to look up to who've never done anything wrong, but I can definitely settle for recognizing someone's greatness at one thing while acknowledging their failures at other things - or at the same thing, in the case of the American Founding Fathers, many of whom owned other human beings at a time when it was legal if not necessarily moral. Mother Teresa refused to give her patients the medication that would save their lives, preferring they suffer to "earn their way into Heaven"; Gandhi was a racist: he actually fought so that the Indian people wouldn't be treated as lowly as Black people, without giving the slightest effort in raising their statute at the same time; Patrick Kane mugged and beat a cab driver, may have choked a woman at a frat party he had no business attending, and was (perhaps wrongly) accused of rape - and he's pretty good on skates and at handling a small piece of vulcanized rubber with a stick.

My thoughts will probably evolve on the matter as more light is shed on either side of his permanent record, but for now, he has to be content to contend with Mike Modano as the best American-born hockey player of all time, and this is what he wore the most often while reaching that point:
That's the Hawks' red (home) uniform, with matching game-worn jersey swatch, on card #AF-KA from Upper Deck's 2010-11 SP Game-Used Edition set and Authentic Fabrics sub-set. I traded for it three or four years ago.

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