BY JOHN WAWROW
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Sabres forward Evander Kane was calm and brief in saying he looks forward to having his name cleared in connection with a sex crime allegation.
“I just want to say I’ve done nothing wrong,” Kane said Monday morning following Buffalo’s pre-game skate before hosting the Washington Capitals. “I respect the legal process. And unfortunately at this time, there’s not much more I can talk about.”
Kane spoke for about 30 seconds in front of a large gathering of reporters in a corner of the Sabres locker room. He did not take any questions in his first comments since The Buffalo News reported that Buffalo police were investigating a claim made against the player.
The alleged incident occurred early Sunday at a downtown hotel, where Kane is living, after he and the Sabres returned to Buffalo following a 6-3 win at Boston. Police issued a statement that was limited to saying that no report or charges had been filed.
The investigation is in its preliminary stages, according to a person with direct knowledge of the details who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because officials are not publicly commenting about the case. The person said police searched Kane’s room at the hotel and towed his vehicle, describing that as standard practice in such cases.
Kane rejoined his teammates after being given a personal day off on Sunday, when coach Dan Bylsma said the Sabres were made aware of the allegation. Bylsma said Kane would be in the lineup against the Capitals.
Without going into detail, Bylsma said Kane addressed the team before practice and added the player appeared happy to be on the ice with his teammates. Bylsma otherwise declined comment by referring to a statement the team released on Sunday.
“We take the allegation made today against Evander Kane very seriously,” the Sabres said. “We are gathering facts and have been in touch with the NHL and Evander’s representatives.”
Kane, who is from North Vancouver, British Columbia, is the second NHL player to be investigated for a sex offense by police in the Buffalo area this year. In November, prosecutors cited a lack of credible evidence after reviewing an allegation against Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, who was accused of assaulting a woman at his offseason home outside Buffalo in August.
Sabres captain Brian Gionta said the allegation against Kane shouldn’t be a distraction.
“It’s one of our teammates obviously, but the bottom line is, when we’re in this room we have to worry about hockey,” Gionta said. “Lots of things happen, and that’s for him to deal with. Part of being a professional is trying to separate things.”
Gionta referred to the team statement when asked how the team will support Kane.
“It’s a serious accusation, but at the same time, that’s what it is at this point in time,” Gionta said. “And until things change, he’s our teammate and that’s about it.”
The 24-year-old Kane is in his first full season in Buffalo after he was acquired in a multi-player trade with the Winnipeg Jets in February. He did not play for the Sabres last year because he was recovering from season-ending shoulder surgery.
This year, the hard-hitting forward has eight goals and five assists in 25 games.
Kane is in his seventh NHL season after being selected fourth overall by the then-Atlanta Thrashers in the 2009 draft. He has scored 19 or more goals three times, and enjoyed a career-best season in 2011-12, when he had 30 goals, 27 assists for 57 points in 74 games.
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