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Patrick Kane apologizes for being distraction amid investigation

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kanetalked about the sexual assault investigation against him for the first time Thursday, declaring he had "done nothing wrong" and that he expected to be absolved.

Kane is accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her 20s in August at his offseason home in Hamburg, New York, a person familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because police have not revealed details of the case.

He has not been charged. A grand jury hearing was recently postponed and reportedly rescheduled for later this month.

"I cannot apologize enough for the distraction this has caused my family, teammates, this incredible organization and, of course, our fans," said Kane, who was joined at a table by Blackhawks president John McDonough, general manager Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville. "While I have too much respect for the legal process to comment on an ongoing matter, I am confident once all the facts are brought to light I will be absolved of having done [anything] wrong."

Appearing calm and poised, Kane then deflected several questions that got anywhere close to the ongoing investigation. Asked about the decision to join the team for training camp, possible reaction from disappointed fans and whether he plans to stop drinking, the answer was mostly the same.

"I know you guys have a lot of questions," Kane said. "I'd love to answer the questions. I'd love to answer them. I'd love to get in front of them and face them. This just isn't the right time to do it with my respect, the Blackhawks' respect for the legal process and what's going on. I really can't comment about that right now."

The case has shadowed the Blackhawks for weeks as they prepare for a season that begins at home on Oct. 7. The team held the news conference the day before training camp begins on the Notre Dame campus.

"We recognize that Patrick Kane is dealing with a very serious situation," McDonough said. "Based on our discussions with his legal representatives who are very close to this matter, we have decided to have Patrick join us for training camp."

Kane's flashy skills and postseason success have made him one of the NHL's most recognizable stars, but he also has generated his share of negative headlines over the years. He was arrested after an altercation with a cab driver in Buffalo, New York, in the summer of 2009. A few years later, photos posted on the Internet showed him partying in Madison, Wisconsin.

The decision to allow him to report to training camp was met with some pointed criticism for a franchise long regarded as one of the smartest organizations in sports.

McDonough said the Blackhawks would re-evaluate Kane's status with the organization if he was indicted of any charges. McDonough remained on script for a majority of the news conference, but he did alter his message after repeated questions about Kane.

"I will say this hasn't been an easy situation for any of us to deal with," McDonough said. "It's been a challenging summer. This has weighed on all of us. We're doing the best we can within the framework of what we can talk about today."

He then said the team would have no further comment on the case. Kane steered questions away from it, too.

"I'm excited to be here at camp just like all the players," he said. "It's good to see your teammates especially after a long summer."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and alternate captains Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook also avoided questions regarding Kane, though Toews acknowledged the situation was unwelcomed.

"I think of course to a certain degree nobody wanted this, but again we don't want to get into those details right now," Toews said. "I'm sure at a later date some questions like that [about Kane], other details will surface. They'll be dealt with at another time. Right now, the three of us are still going to focus on hockey, focus on those questions that are relevant to us and our team right now."

The Associated Press and ESPN staff writer Scott Powers contributed to this report.

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