TORONTO -- In his first public comments on the Patrick Kane investigation, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said today that the league is in wait-and-see mode when it comes to the status of the Chicago Blackhawks star who is currently being investigated for an alleged sexual assault in his Hamburg home last month.
"Obviously whenever a player is involved in something like Patrick Kane is subject to right now in terms of the authorities investigating and looking, it's unfortunate," Bettman said when asked about Kane by The Buffalo News. "It's a terrible thing but we're going to have to watch the process play out and at the appropriate time we'll make whatever decisions have to be made at the time.
"In terms of player conduct, overwhelmingly you look at NHL players and they conduct themselves magnificently on and off the ice. We, meaning the Players Association and the league, have a number of programs and counseling and educational forums in place to hopefully ensure players are focused on doing the right things -- which they do overwhelmingly. When you get a situation where there's this type of attention and focus, we believe you deal with it on a case by case basis because rarely are two of these circumstances identical."
Bettman was speaking today following an elaborate press conference on the floor of the Air Canada Centre to announce details of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which will open here on Sept. 17, 2016. Kane is almost certain to be a key member of Team USA but was not part of the press conference, nor he was part of the NHL Media Tour held here Tuesday with rightsholders to kick off the season.
Bettman downplayed Kane's absence, as the rotation of stars on the Media Tour changes from year to year. But Kane -- a three-time Stanley Cup champion -- almost certainly would have joined the likes of Sidney Crosby, Steven Stamkos, Henrik Lundqvist and Zdeno Chara on the stage Wednesday for the World Cup announcement to represent Team USA.
Kane's potential grand jury proceedings were postponed on Tuesday amid chatter there may be a settlement between the parties in his case. While the justice calender moves on its own pace, the league and Blackhawks are on their own calendar with Chicago's training camp opening Sept. 17 at Notre Dame.
Bettman said the league has not yet opened its own investigation on Kane and thus has made no decision on his status for the upcoming season. Bettman has the power to suspend Kane for an indefinite period under Article 18, Section 5 of the CBA, which says in part "where the failure to suspend the Player during this period would create a substantial risk of material harm to the legitimate interests and/or reputation of the League."
"At the appropriate time we will look into it," Bettman said. "But when somebody is subject to an investigation by law enforcement, they're generally not too anxious to get involved with any other parties until they get that behind them one way or the other.
"We will make whatever decision we have to make on the appropriate time frame that we have to make it based on the information that's available to us at the time. Beyond that, I don't want to speculate at this point."