Connor McDavid is the best player on the planet.
“I’m not really here to discuss optics issues. If fans don’t like it, or the media doesn’t like it, or whatever… it is what it is,” McDavid said in a news conference when questioned about the Oilers’ interest in Kane.
Connor McDavid’s Quotes on Evander Kane Are Telling
Evander Kane has a long list of issues following him.
Kane’s problems began in 2014 when he was charged with assault. Kane admitted to punching the man, but the case was later dismissed. In 2016, a 21-year-old woman launched a civil suit against Kane for sexual assault. The same year, Kane was arrested and faced charges of harassment and trespassing. These charges were later dropped.
In 2021, Kane was sued by a Las Vegas casino for $500,000 in gambling debt. Soon after, his estranged wife made online accusations that Kane bet on his own games. Also in 2021, approval for another lawsuit was granted for Kane paying a woman to have an abortion.
Still, in 2021, Kane’s ex-wife files a domestic violence restraining order against Kane, stating he had physically and sexually assaulted her. Finally, Kane was suspended 21 games for faking a vaccination card with the NHL. After that, the Sharks claimed he also travelled to Vancouver while positive with COVID-19. These transgressions resulted in the termination of Kane’s contract by the San Jose Sharks.
Why McDavid’s Words Matter
Kane’s history should be concerning for a league dealing with the aftermath of the Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal. It should also be concerning from a simple standpoint of ethics. The league and teams could send a message that this type of behaviour is not welcome in the NHL.
Connor McDavid did the opposite. He dismissed the severity of Kane’s past and made it clear that winning is the only thing that matters for an Oilers team that has not won a playoff series since 2017.
“The public opinion is something that obviously matters a lot, but we’re here to win games,” he said.
The Public Reaction
Commentators immediately responded condemning McDavid for his statements, which directly oppose the steps toward social inclusion and safety hockey is taking.
“There are huge steps being made in hockey, I feel them. The tectonic plates in the game are shifting,” said CBC Sports Senior Contributor Shireen Ahmed. while discussing McDavid. “Fans have a lot to do with that. Fans are having conversations, media is having conversations they hadn’t had before…for Connor McDavid to dismiss that is equally problematic.”
Kane’s list of offences from the last 12 months alone should be enough to disqualify him from earning a new contract this season. The opportunity to add a six-time 20 goal scorer for a bargain contract, however, seemed too tempting for the Oilers, especially for McDavid.
McDavid wants to win, but he ignored the impact domestic violence and sexual assault have played in the lives of many, including fans and players.
“His comments about Evander Kane came off as tone-deaf and unnecessarily dismissive of serious issues that matter to many people,” wrote The Hockey News’ Adam Proteau.
For the NHL and hockey to continue to move toward inclusive and safe spaces, the onus cannot be placed on victims to speak. This social progress can only occur from the inside out. It needs to be created by leadership from major stakeholders, including the game’s best player, Connor McDavid.
McDavid stated “I don’t think that’s a bridge we need to cross until something is more official,” and then crossed his bridge by making his stance on the possibility of Kane joining the Oilers clear.
What Connor McDavid said about hockey, is that winning is all that is important, no matter what.
“Obviously, Evander is an amazing player and he’s had lots of success over the last couple of years,” McDavid said. “Whatever else is going on, it’s not something I look into much.”
What Connor McDavid didn’t say about hockey, is that the game will not tolerate domestic and sexual violence
If hockey culture stands any chance of positive change, the game’s biggest star, and perennial scoring leader, needs to be the off-ice leader as well.
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