During a brief Friday morning news conference the Hamburg Police revealed very few details about its investigation into Patrick Kane – the department would only confirm that it’s looking into an incident that allegedly happened at the hockey star’s home last weekend.
The Buffalo News reported that law enforcement sources say Kane is the focus of an investigation into an allegation of rape. Kane has not been charged with a crime.
Investigators and the Chicago Blackhawks’ front office staff are taking their time to ensure that all the information they have is correct before they say anything more on the alleged incident. But experts say it's a different story on social media, where it's hard to separate fact from public opinion.
Regardless of the outcome from the police investigation, Dr. Cheryl Luczak, a marketing expert at St. Xavier University, says it is a black mark that will follow the Stanley Cup champion because of the nature of the allegation.
“With social media now, this information is all over,” Luczak said. “Everyone knows what's going on.”
And everyone has an opinion on social media, Luczak says, and because of that the scandal will negatively affect not only Kane but the entire Blackhawks franchise.
“Blackhawks [has] one of the strongest female fan bases,” Luczak told NBC Chicago. “So from the very beginning it begins to negatively erode the brand.”
Luczak says that might come in the form of sponsors dropping endorsements or a decline in sales of Blackhawks merchandise.
“It's the unconscious decisions that consumers make that they don't realize that are affecting them,” Luczak said.
And as with Kane’s past mistakes – like when he was accused of assaulting a cab driver in 2009 – experts and fans say the newest investigation will haunt him.
“If it's not true, it's really sad,” one fan, Becky Diebold, told NBC Chicago. “Because this will follow him the rest of his career. If it is true, that's really sad as well.”
Kane was reportedly scheduled to make appearances with the Stanley Cup in the Buffalo area this weekend, but NBC Chicago confirmed the Cup was instead at the home of Blackhawks advisor Scotty Bowman for a private party Friday.