Hawks don’t com­ment on lat­est photo shoot

Chicago Sun-Times - - Sports - BY ADAM L. JAHNS

Black­hawks for­wards Pa­trick Kane, John Madden and Kris Ver­steeg are by no means the first pro­fes­sional ath­letes to be pho­tographed in an un­flat­ter­ing light. But they are the lat­est.

The Van­cou­ver Prov­ince’s Or­land Kurten­blog ran four pho­tos of the trio Tues­day ap­par­ently in a limou­sine with three women. In three of the pic­tures, the Hawks are shirt­less. Bot­tles of Koka­nee, a pop­u­lar beer in West­ern Canada, also are vis­i­ble.

It is un­known whether the pho­tos were taken a day be­fore the Hawks lost 5-1 against the Canucks on Satur­day or af­ter­ward.

A team spokesman said Hawks pres­i­dent John McDonough and gen­eral man­ager Stan Bow­man would not com­ment. The team re­leased this state­ment: ‘‘We are aware of the pho­tos. It is a team­re­lated mat­ter, and we will deal with it as such in­ter­nally.’’

Mike Hal­ford, co-ed­i­tor of the pop­u­lar blog, wrote in an e-mail that a reader e-mailed the pho­tos to Kurten­blog af­ter com­ing across them on Face­book. At first, only three of the pho­tos were posted. But af­ter some read­ers sus­pected they were al­tered and not gen­uine, a fourth, show­ing all three Hawks un­der the ve­hi­cle’s mir­rored ceil­ing, was added.

This is not the first time NHL play­ers or the Hawks have been pho­tographed in so­cial set­tings. The Hawks also were cap­tured last year in cos­tumes at a Hal­loween party where Kane and Adam Bur­ish dressed as Bulls play­ers.

‘‘We re­ceive pho­tos like th­ese with some reg­u­lar­ity,’’ said Greg Wyshyn­ski, ed­i­tor of Ya­hoo’s pop­u­lar Puck Daddy blog. ‘‘ Some­times we roll with them if it’s in good fun. Other times it might be a player or play­ers in a com­pro­mis­ing and un­flat­ter­ing po­si­tion, and we’re more care­ful with those be­cause im­ages do carry sig­nif­i­cant weight with fans, fam­i­lies and spon­sors.’’

Other no­table pho­tos in­clude: Mike Com­modore of the Colum­bus Blue Jack­ets wear­ing noth­ing but black briefs and cov­ered in money; four mem­bers of the Montreal Cana­di­ens wear­ing speedos and gog­gles; Wash­ing­ton Cap­i­tals su­per­star Alex Ovechkin at night clubs, and Philadel­phia Fly­ers play­ers at a fra­ter­nity party.

‘‘Over­all, th­ese pho­tos and sto­ries are harm­less,’’ Wyshyn­ski said. ‘‘ But we’re also at a point where play­ers have to be over­cau­tious, to the point where some will only sign au­to­graphs rather than pose for pho­tos. And that’s the price we all pay for the pub­lic and pri­vate bleed­ing to­gether on the Web.’’

How the Van­cou­ver pic­tures will af­fect this promis­ing sea­son is un­cer­tain, but the last time any­thing re­motely sim­i­lar occurred led to dis­as­ter.

That hap­pened in Jan­uary 2003, when Theo Fleury and Phil Hous­ley took young team­mate Tyler Ar­na­son to a strip club in Colum­bus, Ohio. Fleury, who had a long his­tory of al­co­hol and drug abuse, re­port­edly got into a fight with a bouncer and ap­peared at the morn­ing skate the next day with a badly bruised face.

The Hawks also tried to han­dle that mat­ter in­ter­nally, with only Fleury mak­ing apolo­getic com­ments to the me­dia. Hous­ley, then an al­ter­nate cap­tain, had the ‘‘A’’ re­moved from his sweater. The team never was the same and quickly fell out of play­off con­tention.

Kane, the NHL’s lead­ing scorer among Amer­i­can-born play­ers with 59 points in 53 games, had a brush with the law in the sum­mer af­ter an in­ci­dent with a cab driver in his home­town of Buf­falo, N.Y. Ver­steeg was one of three fi­nal­ists last year for the Calder Tro­phy, which goes to the league’s top rookie. Madden signed with the Hawks as a free agent last sum­mer.

Con­tribut­ing: Len Ziehm

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