From the moment a sexual assault investigation of Evander Kane began, the Sabres forward maintained he did nothing wrong. He is obviously happy and relieved that law enforcement officials agreed.
The Erie County District Attorney’s Office and the Buffalo Police Sex Offense squad determined that nothing illegal occurred during Kane’s encounter with a young woman in December, and acting District Attorney Michael J. Flaherty Jr. announced Friday that no charges would be filed.
“I’m definitely happy that process is behind me,” Kane said Saturday in First Niagara Center. “I’m very grateful with the support I got from the Buffalo Sabres and my teammates and family members as well. I’m thankful that this is behind me and I’m looking to move forward.
“As I said before, I did nothing wrong, and I’m glad the truth came out and prevailed.”
Kane, according to Buffalo News sources, took the woman back to his downtown hotel room for consensual sex Dec. 27. The woman later sought medical attention. After she said she could not remember what happened, hospital officials contacted police after finding evidence of trauma and examining the woman for signs of sexual assault.
The police searched Kane’s room and his vehicle. News of the investigation reached a hockey world still keenly aware of the rape accusations levied against Buffalo’s Patrick Kane.
“It was definitely difficult,” Evander Kane said. “Obviously, you don’t want to be associated with anything like that.”
Kane is in his first season with the Sabres, and the 24-year-old had been rebuilding his image after a tumultuous stay in Winnipeg. Kane treated children from the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo to dinner, video games and a shopping spree in October and November but has mostly avoided the spotlight since the investigation began.
“I know it’s been over Evander’s head for a while now,” Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said, “and it’s good to hear the news that it is behind him and put it in the past.”
The appeal process that saw the 20-game suspension of Calgary’s Dennis Wideman reduced to 10 games was flawed in the fact the defenseman had already sat out 19 games, but it nonetheless showed that the NHL Players’ Association has a say in how the league is governed.
“Anytime you’re talking about a 20-game suspension, that’s pretty significant and severe,” said Buffalo defenseman Josh Gorges, who was a union player representative in Montreal. “As the PA, we want to do anything we can to help out any of the players that are in that situation. When they go into an appeal process like they did, it’s just to get a second opinion.
“Obviously, in this case it worked out and worked in favor of Dennis.”
The league and the NHL Officials’ Association have condemned the suspension reduction for Wideman, who knocked over linesman Don Henderson from behind Jan. 27. Henderson has not yet recovered from the incident and won’t work again this season. Wideman has maintained the collision was accidental.
Carolina defenseman Noah Hanifin, selected fifth overall in the 2015 NHL Draft, had three shots in 19:22.
“It’s a little bit like Jack Eichel and a little bit like Dylan Larkin and Connor McDavid,” Bylsma said of the star rookies for the Sabres, Red Wings and Oilers. “It doesn’t take very long to see the speed and what they bring to a lineup right off the hop. He’s got amazing skating speed and stride.”
An auction of Sabres road jerseys to benefit the team’s foundation ends at 9 p.m. Sunday. At puck drop Saturday, the bidding on a jersey worn by Eichel had reached $5,724. A jersey worn by fellow rookie Sam Reinhart had the second-highest bid at $1,075. Ryan O’Reilly’s sweater was going for $825.
The bidding is available at Auctions.NHL.com.