Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane professed his innocence during a very brief statement to reporters late Monday morning, his first comments about a sex-offense investigation being conducted by Buffalo police.
“I just want to say I’ve done nothing wrong,” Kane told reporters after the team’s game-day skate at First Niagara Center. “I look forward to clearing my name.”
Kane said he respects the legal process but added that he had nothing else to say. He did not take any questions from the media after his approximately 25-second comments.
About 15 minutes later, Sabres coach Dan Bylsma said Kane will be playing in Monday night’s game against the Washington Capitals.
The player addressed the team about the situation, and Bylsma said he seemed “happy to be on the ice with his team this morning.”
The Buffalo News reported Sunday that Kane is the subject of a sex offense investigation over an incident that may have occurred Sunday morning in a downtown hotel room near First Niagara Center.
Kane has not been charged with any crime, and law enforcement officials would confirm only that there is an ongoing investigation by officers from the department’s Sex Offense Squad.
The Buffalo Police Department released a statement Monday afternoon that read: “No report has been filed at this time and no charges have been filed at this time.”
In connection with the investigation, sources revealed that police seized Kane’s sport utility vehicle and also searched his luxury suite in the Buffalo Marriott HarborCenter, the hotel where Kane lives. The hotel is adjacent to the First Niagara Center hockey arena, where the Sabres play home games.
“We have an investigation ongoing,” a Buffalo police source said. “We are not naming the suspect, and we do not expect it to be resolved in the very near future.”
Another law enforcement source said the woman was having “memory issues.”
The team reported Sunday that Kane, 24, was absent from morning practice for personal reasons. Kane’s practice jersey was hanging in his stall Sunday morning, with all unused equipment in place, after the team’s practice. The locker room door was closed for longer than usual after practice ended, and player interviews were rushed.
But Kane did skate in the team’s Monday morning practice and will play Monday night, the Sabres said.
Kane’s attorney speaks
After police contacted him on Sunday, Kane hired Buffalo defense attorney Paul J. Cambria, who successfully represented Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane after a woman accused him of rape over the summer. No charges were filed against Patrick Kane after a three-month investigation.
“I concur with what Evander Kane said at his press conference,” Cambria told The Buffalo News Monday afternoon. “I too believe in the legal system, and I too believe that he has done nothing wrong and that he will be exonerated by the investigation. I believe in Evander, and I believe in the statements that he’s made to us that he has done nothing wrong. Our own investigation verifies what he’s told us, more and more.”
Cambria said he could not comment when asked for Kane’s version of what happened, and he also declined to comment when asked if Kane has given any statement to police.
The Sabres released the following statement on Sunday:
“We take the allegation made today against Evander Kane very seriously. We are gathering facts and have been in touch with the NHL and Evander’s representatives. Until we have more information we will not have any additional comment.”
Evander Kane’s agent, Craig Oster of Newport Sports Management, did not return calls for comment.
Sources point to Patrick Kane case
One of the law enforcement sources recalled the rape allegation against South Buffalo native and NHL superstar Patrick Kane earlier this year that was ultimately dropped because investigators were not convinced he had committed a crime.
The source stressed that police were not publicly naming the alleged suspect in Sunday’s incident because of the intense publicity generated by the Patrick Kane investigation and the need for investigators to do their jobs.
Two other sources pointed out that the investigation into Sunday’s alleged incident is in its very early stages.
For months, Patrick Kane was the subject of intense scrutiny by detectives in the Town of Hamburg and investigators in the Erie County District Attorney’s Office after a young woman accused him of attacking and sexually assaulting her in his lakeside home in early August.
Patrick Kane, 26, denied the allegations and also hired Cambria to represent him. The young woman in that case hired attorney Thomas Eoannou.
In a bizarre turn of events, the accuser’s attorney held a news conference to accuse law enforcement officials of mishandling evidence, but the next day he announced that his earlier accusation had been wrong and that he had been deceived by the woman’s mother. He then withdrew from the case.
Ultimately, with the help of DNA evidence, Patrick Kane and his legal team prevailed in early November, when Erie County District Attorney Frank J. Sedita announced there would be no charges.
Evander Kane’s path to Buffalo
Evander Kane, a Vancouver native, has eight goals and five assists in 25 games in his first season on the Sabres since joining the team from the Winnipeg Jets.
Evander Kane, who arrived in Buffalo via trade in February, has been doing well to fit in with the Sabres after a tumultuous stay with his previous team. He repeatedly asked for trades from Winnipeg and was finally dealt after a reported locker-room incident with teammates that included his clothes being thrown into a shower.
In October, Evander Kane rented a helicopter and took two Sabres teammates to Toronto for a baseball playoff game. He has also tried to reshape his image by donating time and money to the Boys & Girls Club of Buffalo. Evander Kane took 60 children to dinner and to an arcade in November, and this month he treated 50 kids from the club to dinner and a $10,000 Christmas shopping spree at Target.
Evander Kane scored a goal Saturday night during a game against the Boston Bruins, in Boston. The team’s next game is at home Monday against the Washington Capitals.
Reporting by Gene Warner, Mike Harrington, John Vogl and Joseph Popiolkowski contributed to this report. email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org