forward Patrick Kane
, the top pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of felony robbery, and the lawyer for the cab driver Kane and his cousin allegedly attacked said Monday the incident had been blown out of proportion and the two sides "should be able to work things out."
The 20-year-old Kane and cousin James Kane, 21, were arrested in the eary hours Sunday morning. The two had apparently taken a cab from the downtown nightclub district in Buffalo, N.Y., Patrick Kane
's hometown, around 4 a.m., according to local police. When the cab driver, identified as 62-year-old Jan Radecki, came up 20 cents short of the change owed on the fare, the Kanes allegedly took their money back and attacked the driver. Radecki said he was punched, grabbed by the throat, and his glasses were broken.
The cab driver's lawyer, Andrew LoTempio, told WGN radio in Chicago: "There was a dispute over the fee and it just kind of escalated from there. It was not really a robbery. That is probably a large distortion of what happened."
and his cousin were each charged with felony robbery in addition to misdemeanor counts of theft of services and criminal mischief. WIVB-TV in Buffalo reported Kane pleaded not guilty to those charges in local court later Sunday.
Asked if the case would end up as a felony, LoTempio said: "Absolutely not."
"I think we should be able to work things out," he added.
A hearing has been scheduled for next Monday, a court spokeswoman said. Orientation camp for the U.S. Olympic Men's Hockey team also opens that day, and USA Hockey spokesman Dave Fischer said Kane is still expected to participate in the three-day event.
NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly released a statement saying: "We are aware of the incident. We don't condone or approve of what has been suggested the facts are. We are looking into it ourselves."
Kane and fellow second-year star Jonathan Toews
helped Chicago end a seven-year postseason drought and led the Blackhawks to the Western Conference Finals last season. Kane followed up a rookie year in which he won the Calder Trophy, registering 21 goals and 72 points, by putting up 25 goals and 70 points in the regular season, then adding 9 goals and 14 points in 16 Stanley Cup Playoff games.
"He is a big part of our organization and a team leader and we stand behind him," Blackhawks spokesman Brandon Faber said. "As we are still collecting all the facts, it would be premature to comment further at this time."