No doubt Kane will pay

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:05 AM ET

That sweet kid who couldn't grow a playoff beard suddenly doesn't seem so sweet anymore.

One act can do that to a reputation. One night of losing your mind. One night, maybe enhanced by alcohol, or just by circumstance. One act, if true, changes everything for Patrick Kane.

The cab driver who was allegedly beaten by Kane and his cousin, James, looks a lot like Buffalo, the city he works in. He is gray and pasty and old and clearly beaten down. And the way Jan Radecki tells it, the kids allegedly flipped out when he locked the doors to his cab, not letting them out before paying their fares. Apparently, the college kids jump out all the time without paying. Radecki, 62, wasn't about to let that happen, so he wouldn't release the electronic locks, and then he found he didn't have the correct change for a fare of $13.80

He had a dollar for change but he was two dimes short.

Two dimes that allegedly got him beaten up by a millionaire hockey player.

And the Kanes stole their $15 back. Well thought out, this wasn't.

"You don't know who you're (bleeping) with," Kane allegedly yelled between punches to the old man. "You don't know who you're (bleeping) with."

We thought we knew. Once again, we thought wrong.

Patrick Kane, first pick in the National Hockey League draft, rookie of the year, face of a Chicago Blackhawks franchise growing in all the right ways, may need a playoff beard just to hide from the embarrassment and scorn he must feel now. He was everywhere yesterday, in all the wrong places, his story being tossed around on such esteemed websites as stupidcelebrities.net.

"You don't know who you're bleeping with?"

By mid-afternoon, the cab driver Radecki knew and more importantly his lawyer, a former judge named Andrew LoTempio, knew. The beating Radecki talked about with such detail and disgust was suddenly not a big deal. It's what kids do, his lawyer said, sure looking like he was setting himself and his client up for some kind of out-of-court settlement. The way Radecki talked, it was something. The way LoTempio spoke, it was nothing.

It was nothing once LoTempio figured out who he was dealing with, a kid who won't be able to legally drink in the U.S. until November, but whose annual salary is $875,000 US a year and on the rise and he apparently figured out quickly they could make this go away.

Maybe in court they can make it go away.

The court of public opinion is rarely so forgiving and not so easily purchased.

As for Kane's camp, his agent, Pat Brisson came to his client's defence with a statement.

"Early Sunday morning, Pat Kane was involved in an unfortunate situation with a cab driver in Buffalo. The cab driver's attorney in recent media reports was quoted as saying that the incident has been blown out of proportion. Kane has retained Paul Cambria as his attorney in this matter. Cambria has told me that, based on the evidence that he has reviewed in this case, there is no doubt that Mr. Kane will be fully exonerated.

Since this is an ongoing legal matter, I think it is inappropriate for me to comment further at this time. But I am absolutely confident that, when the legal process has been completed, Pat Kane will be fully cleared."

For Kane this is image altering, no matter what happens next. When he shows up on Monday for the U.S. Olympic orientation camp, he will not be asked about the Olympics. He will be asked about the charges of assault and robbery he is supposed to face in a Buffalo court room that same day. Fairly or unfairly, that's how the world works.

In late June, Kane was chosen by the mega-company, EA Sports to have his face on the NHL 10 video game. Kane along with John Tavares, his fellow Brisson client, are supposed to be the spokespeople for the product. Yesterday, EA had to be regretting its choice. "We are aware of the incident," said Jen Riley of EA Sports. "And we have no comment at this time."

EA SPORTS DILEMMA

This isn't the first time EA has had to deal with a troubling hockey issue. Several years back, Joe Thornton was chosen for the video game cover but was replaced by EA after he was charged with assault following a nightclub fight in St. Thomas, Ont. Expect Kane to be dropped just as Thornton was, but the image that will endure will be of the old man talking about being beaten up over 20 cents.


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