TORONTO — NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says the league will wait for the legal process to play out in the sexual assault investigation involving Patrick Kane before making any decisions about his future.
The Chicago Blackhawks star is under investigation by police in his hometown of Hamburg, N.Y., over an incident that occurred at his house. He has not been charged.
"Obviously when a player is involved in something like Patrick Kane is subject to right now in terms of the authorities investigating, it’s unfortunate, 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," Bettman said Tuesday at Air Canada Centre.
According to The Associated Press, the Erie County District Attorney has postponed grand jury proceedings into the allegation against Kane.
Evidence was scheduled to be presented to jurors on Tuesday but the hearings were postponed for about two weeks, a source told the AP. The person, who spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity, did not provide a reason for the postponement.
Kane is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her 20s at his off-season home outside Buffalo, a second person familiar with the investigation told AP on the condition of anonymity because police have not revealed the nature of their investigation.
The Stanley Cup-champion Blackhawks are scheduled to open training camp on Sept. 18. With that date looming, Bettman declined to say whether the NHL had to make a decision on Kane by then.
"We will make whatever decision we have to make in the appropriate time frame that we have to make it based on the information that is available to us at the time," Bettman said. "Beyond that I don’t want to speculate at this point."
Beyond Kane, a handful of other NHL players have run into legal trouble in recent months.
Free agent Mike Richards was charged with possession of a controlled substance at the Canadian-U.S. border in Emerson, Man.; former Los Angeles Kings teammate Jarret Stoll pleaded guilty to two reduced misdemeanour charges to resolve a felony cocaine case stemming from an arrest at a Las Vegas swimming pool and Buffalo Sabres forward Ryan O’Reilly was charged with impaired driving and failing to remain at the scene of an accident in London, Ont.
Kings defenceman Slava Voynov has been taken into custody by U.S. immigration officials two months after pleading no contest to a domestic violence charge. He was originally charged with a felony and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanour charge, and according to the Los Angeles Times, faces possible deportation to his native Russia.
Voynov was suspended last season when he was charged. Richards had his contract terminated by the Kings in late June, and his situation is pending a grievance hearing filed by the NHLPA.
Bettman said the NHL handles each situation on a case-by-case basis "because rarely are two of these circumstances identical." He also commended the vast majority of NHL players for their behaviour.
"Overwhelmingly our players do the right things," Bettman said. "We have over 700 players and overwhelmingly they conduct themselves in a magnificent, appropriate way that reflects well on each other, and on their teams, the league and the game."