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EA Sports removes Patrick Kane from NHL 16 cover amid sexual assault investigation

Samit Sarkar (he/him) is Polygon’s deputy managing editor. He has more than 15 years of experience covering video games, movies, television, and technology.

Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane will no longer appear on the cover of NHL 16 or be a spokesman for the game, publisher Electronic Arts announced today. Kane is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the Hamburg, New York, police department into an alleged rape at his home.

"In light of the ongoing investigation involving Patrick Kane, he will no longer be a spokesperson for the launch of EA Sports NHL 16," said EA. "He will not appear on the EA Sports NHL 16 cover nor participate in other EA Sports NHL 16 promotional activities."

EA Sports originally announced in June that Kane would appear with his teammate Jonathan Toews on the NHL 16 cover. Toews and Kane won the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks this past spring, the team's third title in six years. Both athletes had previously graced the EA Sports NHL cover, Kane for 2009's NHL 10 and Toews for NHL 11 the following year. NHL 16 would have been the first game in the series' history with two teammates on the box.

EA Sports has updated both NHL 16's official pre-order page and its Facebook page with a new shot of Toews hoisting the Stanley Cup alone. You can see the new cover below. NHL 16 is set for release Sept. 15 on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. For more, check out our in-depth piece on its EA Sports Hockey League mode.

NHL 16 Jonathan Toews cover 1920

The police department for the Town of Hamburg released a statement Aug. 7 in which it said only that it was "investigating an incident that allegedly occurred at the residence of NHL player Patrick Kane last weekend." The Buffalo News reports that a local woman accused Kane, 26, of raping her at his home in the early morning hours of Aug. 2. Citing "sources with knowledge of the investigation," the Buffalo News says the woman came away from the alleged attack with "bite marks on her shoulders and a scratch on her leg."

Hamburg Police searched Kane's home later that day, and the woman was examined at a hospital for signs of rape, but no charges have been filed at this time, according to the Buffalo News. The police department told the newspaper that it is continuing its investigation as it awaits the results of forensic tests.

This is not the first about-face for the cover of an EA Sports title. In 2009, NFL receiver Percy Harvin was widely rumored to be the original choice for the NCAA Football 10 cover, with promotional materials featuring him going out to some retail locations. A failed drug test during the NFL Scouting Combine then came to light, and Michael Crabtree was ultimately announced as the cover star.

It's also not the first change for EA's hockey franchise, Puck Daddy notes. Shortly after the September 2003 release of NHL 2004, EA Sports replaced Dany Heatley with Joe Sakic on the game's cover. Heatley had been the driver in a car accident that killed his teammate Dan Snyder, and was charged with vehicular homicide.

Last month, WWE terminated its contract with Hulk Hogan and erased him from its website following reports of a racist rant Hogan made during a sex tape filmed in 2007. WWE 2K16 publisher 2K Sports announced shortly afterward that Hogan would not appear in the game.

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