Evander Kane Saga May Spell End In Winnipeg

It feels like Evander Kane has been in the league for a while now. In fact, he’s logged almost five years in the National Hockey League thus far, and the most remarkable thing is that he is not even 25 yet.

Kane was drafted by the then-Atlanta Thrashers in 2009 at 4th overall at 17 years of age, expected to be the next great power forward in the NHL. After a couple years in the league, he hit 30 goals in 2011-12 to go along with 57 points, both career highs to this point. He has struggled to stay healthy at times, as he has never been able to play a full 82-game season thus far, topping out at 74 in his career year.

Now 23, Kane is battling injuries again, one of which may require surgery, and was determined to be a “healthy” scratch Tuesday night against the Canucks in Vancouver, his hometown. Yikes.

Head Coach Paul Maurice assured that it was a “coach’s decision”, but the story only gets stranger from here.

Pause the film. What?

That’s right, he got benched for breaking the dress code. Although it seems like this is the only reason that he didn’t play, it’s highly likely that this comes from behavior that has longevity. Maurice has already scratched him once due to disciplinary reasons this season,

The track suit he wore was the subject of many teammates’ jokes, and apparently Kane thought one teammate in particular, Dustin Byfuglien, went too far. Byfuglien, who previously mentioned the Jets as a “tight group,” reportedly soaked the suit, something Kane did not take well.

After that, Kane did not show up to the rink. Whether the Jets were more upset at the improper attire or if Kane was subdued by his lingering injury is why the story is where it is. That part is unclear.

However, what is clear is Kane’s injury.

According to Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press, Kane has had the option of surgery ever since his MCL sprain flared up earlier in the season.

If Kane or the Jets announce in the coming days he’s going under the knife, it will be evident the player and team are at odds. Surgery has been an option Kane has elected to forego to this point. He’s played with pain and been effective. Up until now, the expectation was he would conclude the season and have this ailment taken care of in the off-season.

But Kane is well within his rights to say he wants things fixed and he wants them fixed now. If that’s the news which breaks in the coming days, we’ll know Kane has lost his appetite to do all he can for king and country.
-Gary Lawless, Winnipeg Free Press

Kane’s teammates gave their take.

“There’s a standard that everybody needs to live up to. We’re professionals. We make a lot of money. That’s the code we live by. If you don’t like it then there’s other places you can go. This is the way we do things.”
-Winnipeg Jets Forward Blake Wheeler, Yahoo Sports

“I’m sure you have rules in your household, and if the kids don’t stick to it, you’ve got to discipline them. It is what it is.”
-Winnipeg Jets Defenseman Dustin Byfuglien


From healthy scratch, to the track suits, back to the IR, the future in Winnipeg for Kane appears uncertain. He is still at the ripe age of 23 and has a ton of promise, but that promise is being put on hold due to the various assortment of injuries he’s dealt with in his young career. He will not be rushed out of town just because of an off-ice incident, but it appears him and the team along with fellow teammates are in a complicated situation that could be blown up by the media or have a deeper root in the organization due to Kane’s behavior in the past after all.

Until then, the plot will only thicken as the Jets battle to make the playoffs for the first time since moving from Atlanta, with or without Kane.

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Stats, bio courtesy of NHL.com

Quotes courtesy of Winnipeg Free Press, Deadspin, and Yahoo Sports

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