SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chicago Blackhawk superstar Patrick Kane receives loud cheers from fans as he takes the ice for the first day of training camp, one day after he publicly addressed the rape accusations against him for the first time.
The Blackhawks began practice at the University of Notre Dame on Friday morning. They'll also play there on Saturday and Sunday. Fans lined up outside the rink in the rain to see the Stanley Cup champs practice.
"I fully support Patrick Kane because innocent until proven guilty and I don’t, I think he'll be absolved of all charges," said fan Debbi Kelley.
"No charges against him have been filed, and so I don't see why he should be kept out," said fan Phil Bornell.
On Thursday, Kane read read a brief statement: “This has been an incredibly difficult time for many people. I cannot apologize enough for the distraction this has caused my family, my team, this incredible organization, and of course our fans. While I have too much respect for the legal process to comment on an ongoing matter, I'm confident that once all the facts are brought to light, I will be absolved of having done nothing wrong."
Following his statement, Kane was asked multiple questions related to the allegations.
He would not answer them directly.
When asked if he would stop drinking, Kane said, "I appreciate the question. I wish I could answer those questions right now but there is a legal matter going on that I can’t answer that.”
Blackhawks President John McDonough says they decided to allow Kane to come to camp after talking with his lawyers.
"We recognized that Patrick Kane is dealing with a very serious situation," McDonough said. "I can assure you that I am anything but tone deaf."
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said in a statement, “We support the (Blackhawks') decision in this situation."
Kane is not charged with a crime. Prosecutors are expected to take the case to a grand jury later this month to determine if a crime was committed.
The Hawks open the season on October 7th at the United Center.