Last night the entire league descended upon the Las Vegas strip for the NHL Awards. The event is not exactly the most popular, but it does signal the start of the off season circus. After last off season, the NHL really needed a win. They really needed to set the tone and show fans that last summer was an anomaly. The league was less than awesome, but I don’t really put all the blame on them.
The NHL is a business. While you can’t operate in a bubble, the NHL and other businesses try their hardest to do so and often come off insensitive, out of touch, and focused only on the money. In a capitalist economy, that’s what happens. People can’t rely on a business to be the moral compass for America. Humans must create the moral compass, humans possess compassion, sincerity, and the ability to know right and wrong.
The NHL did not elect Patrick Kane to the Hart Memorial Trophy. A collection of reporters in the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association chose to name Kane the most valuable player to his team. These same reporters that expressed disgust last summer in the handling of the Patrick Kane rape accusation. These same reporters that crowed to think of the women, to remember justice. Not every reporter demanded Kane to be held responsible for his actions, but enough did that the 121 1st place votes is disappointing.
I’m not calling for the NHL to damn Kane. I’m not asking he be made an example of. Separating the man from his actions is a necessary evil of sports, of any public figure. But the NHL, the PHWA had an opportunity to make a statement.
The PHWA had an opportunity to frame their story as his off season antics detracted from team morale, caused tension, and were not “becoming of team expectations”. None of these reasons make Kane a valuable member of the team, let alone the most valuable. All of these actions framed in the team mindset were selfish, destructive, and damaging to the brand. Cold? Yes. But truthful. Not voting for him does not diminish his season. It doesn’t take away his scoring record. It doesn’t deny him anything but a piece of hardware. And let’s face it, it’s not the hardware anyone really cares about.
The NHL had an opportunity to make their own statements unrelated to the Awards. They could have sent representatives, money, recognition, anything to a women’s shelter, Planned Parenthood, any charity that assists women at any point in the last season.
ANYTHING WOULD HAVE BEEN BETTER THAN SILENCE
The teams involve themselves in charities all the time, involvement in a women’s event would have spoke volumes to the situation. The NHL isn’t in the business of investigation, prosecution, or justice but they are in the business of not alienating a large portion of their fan base. You know, the people that hand over their money to keep this whole thing afloat.
Kane isn’t the first player to be in this position, he won’t be the last, sadly, but the NHL needs to recognize that they aren’t helping the situation. No one is helping the situation.
I’m not saying Kane is guilty, I’m not saying Kane isn’t guilty, all I’m saying is his off season actions were not beneficial to the Chicago Blackhawks, to the NHL as a whole and the PHWA should have voted as such. We all laughed when Ryan O’Reilly was named as the Buffalo Sabres’ Masterton Award nominee. Everyone should have had the same reaction when Kane’s name came up, but they did because drunk driving is obviously wrong but a good ol’ boy having a night of fun ruined (through actions of his own, possibly) is a moral gray area that we can reward.
I will continue to hope that the NHL will get it together, will see that they need to support their vulnerable fans. That one day their efforts to assist women will go beyond the obligatory pink gear in October and actually make an effort. I’m not asking for a statement, I’m not asking them to condemn Kane or any other player, I’m just asking for a change going forward.