Why don't leagues get squeezed as much as NFL when players face violence charges?

FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2016, file photo, New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws a ball during a spring training baseball workout in Tampa, Fla. A day after accepting a 30-game suspension, Chapman apologized Wednesday, March 2, 2016, for using a gun and insisted he never hurt his girlfriend. Chapman agreed to the penalty, assessed by Major League Baseball under its new domestic violence policy. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

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FILE - In this Feb. 19, 2016, file photo, New York Yankees pitcher Aroldis Chapman throws a ball during a spring training baseball workout in Tampa, Fla. A day after accepting a 30-game suspension, Chapman apologized Wednesday, March 2, 2016, for using a gun and insisted he never hurt his girlfriend. Chapman agreed to the penalty, assessed by Major League Baseball under its new domestic violence policy. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

Not every star athlete receives the same treatment. Sometimes it all depends on what sport you play.

Criminal domestic assault charges against Yankees reliever Aroldis Chapman were dropped in January. MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred gave him a 30-game suspension for his conduct and Chapman apologized, at least for firing a gun if not for attacking his girlfriend.

Criminal rape charges against Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane were dropped in November after a much-publicized three-month investigation. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will respond by handing him the Hart Trophy as the league's MVP this summer.

At the very least, the NHL decision not to suspend Kane has allowed him to play all season, and he leads the league in scoring and is a very strong contender for the award. I realize the gun makes the Chapman case different (although he wasn't pointing it or shooting it at anyone) and there were, according to the district attorney, significant problems with the alleged victim's story in Kane's case.

Still, the league and the Blackhawks allowing him to practice with the team, play in exhibitions and begin the season while a rape investigation was ongoing now looks as if everyone was more worried about Kane's ability to compile league-leading stats than anything else.

Mostly, I think we care more about these things in the NFL. We see them as part of a larger problem with the league, but when domestic violence or assault charges spill into other sports, we mostly shrug.

Anyone still upset that Kurt Busch got his suspension lifted so quickly in NASCAR?

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell remains a whipping boy on this front but, remember, he at least tried to suspend Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy for 10 games before an arbitrator reduced it to four.

Hardy, who is a free agent and is not expected to be re-signed by the Cowboys, falls under the slightly different category of "found guilty once but charges and record completely dismissed."

The photo evidence released by TMZ last fall tells us one way to feel about the Hardy case. The actual legal proceedings _ which are really all we have to declare the innocence of Chapman and Kane _ no longer fault Hardy in any way, either.

The Chapman case is particularly interesting because Manfred _ like the NBA's Adam Silver, enjoying a honeymoon period with fans after the departure of a controversial predecessor _ used a new aspect of the Collective Bargaining Agreement put in place last summer to penalize the pitcher. As recently as two weeks ago, Chapman was defiant and indicated he would appeal any suspension, but he took his lumps willingly last week.

Chapman apologized for firing a gun eight times in his garage. But he said he never hurt the girlfriend, who accused him of pushing her and choking her in the incident.

In a strict letter-of-the-law sort of way, Chapman shouldn't be suspended at all. But professional sports _ better late than never _ are trying to protect the alleged victims in a way that the courts have always failed to do. The NFL, popular as it is, can't endure repeated releases of videotape showing prominent players knocking out their wives or girlfriends in elevators.

So Ray Rice disappears from the league. Hardy, who failed to show remorse or even an awareness that an apology might do him some financial good, continues to inspire fans' anger despite what actually amounts to a clean slate in the incident.

Then there's Kane. Stories of his partying have been legendary for years and this wasn't his first brush with law enforcement, but the rape accusation in his Buffalo area home was starting and new.

The alleged victim was all but outed by angry fans on Facebook while Kane mostly remained silent and never really apologized for more than being a burden to teammates. When the case resulted in charges being dropped, Kane lost the cover of a video game but no ice time. And now, having the finest season of his career, he could end up as the league's MVP.

It's almost as if Kane hopes to avoid it, saying Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford has had a better year.

What level of embarrassment is it for the league if MLB is showing a progressive, don't-mess-up attitude towards anything that hints of domestic violence at the same time Bettman is handing Kane the Hart Trophy?

The NHL, because it generates passions on a much lower level in this country, can get away with letting its players slide, but it did suspend the Kings' Slava Voynov while he was being investigated a year ago. And in the wake of the Kane situation, each team went through an NHLPA domestic violence seminar.

If the NHL had prevented Kane from practicing with his team and preparing for the season during the rape investigation, perhaps forcing him to miss the first few games, maybe he still would have posted numbers magical enough to lead the Blackhawks and compete for an MVP. At least it would have seemed like the league cared as much about its image as a video game does.