So what to make of Patrick Kane, who is in the midst of an MVP year for the Chicago Blackhawks in a season that began with allegations of sexual misconduct hanging over him?
Kane is managing a neat trick here, in the first quarter of the NHL season.
For many people, if there was something distracting happening in their personal lives, it would frequently spill over into their professional lives – or vice versa. Somehow, during an investigation that lasted for three months – early August until prosecutors dropped the matter in early November, citing a lack of credible evidence – Kane was able to compartmentalize and keep his personal issues separate from the professional. Even as the investigation percolated in the background, and fans in road arenas jeered, he kept playing and producing points.
"I think I was confident in myself all along, with everything," Kane said Friday morning, before the Blackhawks' game against the Calgary Flames. "But at the same time, it doesn't mean it doesn't weigh on you, whether it's articles or reports, or whatever it may be.
"But I think hockey's been my little getaway from everything. It's almost like, after school, when you don't want to worry about your homework and you get to play with your friends. It's kind of what the feeling's been for me – just getting away from everything by playing hockey, doing something I love to do. I'm enjoying it more than ever I guess."
Kane has had some poor lifestyle choices spill into the public domain – an argument with a cab driver in Buffalo led to an arrest in 2009. Some of his drunken celebratory excesses following the Blackhawks' three Stanley Cup celebrations can be found online without much effort.
But this summer's allegations almost certainly took the largest toll, casting a shadow over someone who had been one of the NHL's most marketable players. The NHL likes its stars squeaky clean. When the matter first arose, the first casualty was his EA Sports NHL 16 cover, originally designed to feature both him and teammate Jonathan Toews. Later, some pressed the Blackhawks to keep him out of training camp until the case was resolved.
Instead, Kane played the exhibition season – breaking in two new linemates, Russians Artem Anisimov and rookie Artemi Panarin. The three have been the team's most productive scoring line. How good can Kane be if the events of the past three months actually scare him straight?
"When he came into the season, his attitude was in the right place," coach Joel Quenneville said. "His focus every day, when he was on the ice, was on hockey.
"It was probably not easy to handle the situation he was in, but he tried to be the best he could be, every day on the ice.
"I've got to say, he's had a great start, but he had a great start last year, prior to getting injured. He was as good as anybody in the game, and I see even more consistency this year."
Kane had scored points in 14 games in a row going into Friday's game, matching the longest consecutive point streak of his career and he had scored goals in seven consecutive games prior to getting shut out by the Edmonton Oilers two nights previously. In all, he has points in 17 of his first 19 games this season and with 30 points overall, leads the NHL in scoring.
"I don't want to say it's easy to do that, but I guess the tough part comes now, when teams are expecting you to produce and there's a little bit more awareness of your line specifically," Kane said. "The challenge will be keeping it up. That's what we're aiming to do."