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NHL backs Patrick Kane over 'unfounded' rape allegations

NHL backs Patrick Kane over 'unfounded' rape allegations
The NHL has said the rape allegations made against Patrick Kane during the off-season were “unfounded” and the Chicago Blackhawks star will not face any league disciplinary action.

The league confirmed it had completed its investigations into the allegations made against Kane, and after the player's meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman in New York earlier in the week, it issued the following statement on Wednesday.

"Based on its review, including the determination made by the Erie County District Attorney not to pursue charges, the NHL has concluded that the allegations made against Kane were unfounded. The league considers the matter closed and will have no further comment."

Kane was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in her 20s at his off-season home outside of Buffalo, New York, back in August 2015.

Erie County District Attorney Frank Sedita led a three-month investigation into the allegations, eventually ruling in November that there was a lack of credible evidence in a case he found “rife with reasonable doubt.”

Prosecutors also had a signed affidavit from the accuser saying she did not want to press charges.

Three-time Stanley Cup champion Kane is one of the NHL's top stars, and the statement appears to be an attempt by the league to repair his damaged image.

While prosecutors stated there was “a lack of credible evidence,” the NHL statement goes significantly further by concluding “the allegations made against Kane were unfounded.”

With 38 goals and 51 assists this season, Kane is a big contender for the MVP award. The Blackhawks  look set for another strong play-off run, and it's crucial to the NHL's image that there is no cloud hanging over one of its major stars.

In a week where Kane is heavily featured in Sports Illustrated, the statement appears to have been timed for maximum effect to ensure one of America's top players finds favor once again with the fans.

Judging by these responses on Twitter, it appears that might be more difficult than they think.