Hawks don’t comment on latest photo shoot
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