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Kane to pay for cab incident, Teubert's presence felt, more

I don't take a lot of cabs, but I've been in enough of them to know that I wouldn't even think asking for change of $15 on a $13.80 fare. I mean, I once was called the cheapest man in Canada on CBC radio and even I'm not pinching those kinds of pennies.

But early last Sunday morning in his hometown of Buffalo, Patrick Kane allegedly did, according to this felony complaint. And when the driver, 62-year-old Jan Radecki, handed over a dollar but couldn't come up with the remaining 20 cents, he claims that an apparently sober Kane made a decision that even a Canadian Club IV couldn't explain away.

"One guy pays and the other guy grabs me by the throat, Patrick Kane, turned out to be a hockey player -- I don't know who they are," Radecki told CLTV in Buffalo about the incident involving the Blackhawks star and his cousin James.

"I didn't have 20 cents to give change. I said I don't have change . . .the one Kane is choking me, the other is punching me, 'Don't you know who I am? Don't you know who I am? You're messing with the wrong people.'"

Nice. A guy who delivered all of 19 hits in 80 games last season -- wonder how many searches there were on nhl.com for that particular stat yesterday? -- finally unleashed his inner Brent Seabrook on a senior citizen over the loss of 20 freaking cents.

Cheap and stupid. It's as if the Dollar Bill Wirtz era never ended.

This whole story is so head-shaking crazy that you want to believe there's more to it. I mean, there has to be, right? Something to help make sense of it?

Maybe there is. The lawyer for the cab driver told a Chicago radio station on Monday that the incident was "blown out of proportion." (Here's the interview.) And you know what? It just might have been. None of us were there to say otherwise.

But there were witnesses. No one disputes that the two Kanes were in the cab sometime after four in the morning. And the guy didn't invent the cuts on his face or the broken glasses. It remains to be seen whether they compounded the idiocy of an assault by not only taking back their $15, but grabbing another $100 that the cabbie had. Still, in the aftermath, there was evidence enough to charge both Kane and his cousin with felony robbery and misdemeanor counts of theft of services and criminal mischief.

And now Kane's reputation isn't worth two bits.

And really, that's what this all comes down to. A guy who has been the subject of a few unsubstantiated whispers about his character over an electrifying two-year career finally gaffes on a massive public scale and turns his name to mud. Maybe not equal on the miscreant scale to what we've seen from some athletes in the NFL and NBA, but this one won't be any easier to play down because of the sheer stupidity of it. There's that word again. How else can you describe it?

No matter how this plays out the optics are terrible, and not just for Kane, who'd better develop a pretty thick skin before the Hawks take their show on the road this season. It's another puck in the mouth for a team that's already endured a nightmarish summer with the RFA contract mailing screw-up, the Dale Tallon "reassignment," the hidden injury of prized free agent signing Marian Hossa, and the less than charitable reaction of fans to president John McDonough at the team's summer convention.

Now this. Kane wasn't going to be the sacrificial lamb to next summer's expected salary cap crisis, but this incident puts his name in play, at least in the media. Just the sort of distraction this franchise needs.

It's a blight on the NHL as well. There's no way of knowing at this point whether this case will make it to court -- the cab driver's attorney said he doesn't think it will -- let alone result in a guilty verdict, but the league has its own set of standards. Commissioner Gary Bettman, who has been in the news lately trumpeting the priority the league places on character and integrity, should apply those guidelines to his star players as unflinchingly as he does prospective owners, and the NHLPA needs to do the right thing and play along.

The good news for the miserly Kane? He probably doesn't need to worry about shelling out for a new suit for court. But this whole thing's going to cost him a lot more than 20 cents. It's shamelessly clear that Radecki's lawyer is willing to come to some sort of financial understanding to make this all go away. No one should be surprised if that's how it plays out.

Or if Kane becomes a 20 percent tipper from here on out.

Only one way to interpret the NHL's decision to let Lightning co-owner Len Barrie have first crack at buying out partner Oren Koules: he has no chance of raising the cash.

By allowing Barrie first wraps in this bitter business divorce, the league is preventing the former fringe player from crying foul over the process. If he can't scrape up the necessary capital in the next 60 days -- a feat that's about as likely as a worst-to-first season for the Bolts -- he can't complain. If the adequately funded Koules had gone first, Barrie could have challenged the result on the grounds that he wasn't given a fair chance. So the ball is in his court now. Time to put up or shut up. Expect two months of silence, and then the news that Koules is buying him out.

There's been plenty of talk over whether Colten Teubert was out of line for delivering that crushing open-ice hit on Jordan Caron at Team Canada's U-20 training camp over the weekend. How about saving a little bit of that ire for Zack Kassian?

After all, it was Kassian's Hotel Dieu pass that led Caron directly onto the trolley tracks as he was coming out of the defensive zone during the Red/White scrimmage. It was the sort of brain dead decision-making that should remind everyone of Kassian's limits at this point of his development and highlight his flaws as a Team Canada prospect. A physical monster? Sure. But his decision-making skills? Not quite world class.

Teubert's been the lightning rod for criticism after his hit left Caron with a broken collarbone, but the reality is he was following the instructions of the coaching staff to leave it all on the ice -- an edict delivered by Team Canada brass after last year's camp was deemed a little soft.

Granted, Teubert could have handled himself with a bit more aplomb after the scrimmage (saying of Caron -- a potential teammate -- "it sucks to be him" seems something less than gallant). But even returnees have to prove themselves at this camp. Teubert, a Kings' first-rounder in 2008, gave Canada's coaches a reminder of what he could bring to the defending champs. If he wasn't a lock to make the squad before, he is now.

As for Caron, he's expected to be out six-to-eight weeks, a time frame that suggests he'll miss most, if not all, of his first training camp with the Boston Bruins.

The key hockey event of the summer, the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, gets under way today (Aug.11) in the Czech Republic. The event features the world's top under-18 players. One name to watch: Brandon Gormley.

One scout who attended Canada's training camp last week said the young defenseman looked to be the best player on the ice for the defending champs.

"You can't believe the poise of this kid at 17," the scout said. "Nothing rattles him. Doesn't matter how much pressure he's under -- if there's any chance of making a play, he makes it. Great skater, makes crisp passes and he plays a solid physical game. He'll be a difference-maker [at the Hlinka tournament]."

Of course, Gormley has a bit of an advantage on most of the field. Despite the dampness behind his ears, this will be the fourth time he's worn the Maple Leaf. He represented Team Atlantic at the past three World Under-17 championships -- an unprecedented run.

Taken first overall by the Moncton Wildcats in the 2008 QMJHL draft, Gormley slipped effortlessly into the lineup, netting 27 points and earning a spot on the league's All-Rookie Team. He's eligible for the 2010 NHL Entry Draft

The Canadians boast a couple more players who are sure to draw attention. John McFarland, a Jarome Iginla-esque power forward, should be the centerpiece of the Canadian offense after a dominant performance at the less prestigious spring Under-18 event. "His speed and smarts really stand out," our scout said.

Fast and fearless, Erik Gudbranson captained the Kingston Frontenacs last season despite being just 16 years old. The 6-3, 185-pound blueliner struggled in camp, but is regarded as a Mark Stuart-type: solid in his own end, strong skater and a great leader. The Canadian lineup also features Brock Beukeboom, a hulking defender like his father Jeff, but regarded as a better skater and shooter, and goalie Calvin Pickard, the brother of top Nashville prospect Chet Pickard.

The Americans won the spring event with their National Team Development Program squad, but won't be sending any of those players to the Hlinka. It should be a competitive squad though, led by massive forwards Austin Watson, an early favorite to go in the top-10 next summer, and Nick Bjugstad, a likely first-rounder and nephew of former Minnesota North Star Scott Bjugstad.

Three more names to watch for in the post-game notes (unfortunately, there's no TV broadcast): Swedish sensation Gabriel Landeskog, Russian winger Kirill Kabanov and Finnish forward Mikael Granlund. All three are projected first-rounders.

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