Hockey Headlines

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

I'm Not Buying It

You knew that the Winnipeg media wouldn't let this one die. As written yesterday, Evander Kane was sat in his hometown of Vancouver as the Jets fell to the Canucks 3-2 in overtime, and there was outrage across the province with Kane being a spectator. Some felt he could have been the difference last night. Some feel his $6 million price tag means he gets rolled out every single night regardless of how he's playing. Apparently, none of that mattered as word leaked out from the Jets today that Evander Kane sat because of his choice of clothes yesterday. Yes, you read that correctly.

It was reported by Winnipeg Free Press scribe Gary Lawless about Kane's indiscretion.
I don't buy it. I don't buy that the reason he sat yesterday was due entirely to him showing up to an afternoon team meeting in a track suit. I can believe, however, that the track suit was the tipping point in a stretch of three games that saw him record no points and post a -7 rating where he rarely back-checked, hardly threw any hits, and fell back into habits that shouldn't be seen in a player of Kane's experience. In other words, he had one foot in the doghouse, and he simply forced Maurice's hand with his track suit shenanigans.

In the article referenced in Lawless' tweet, he writes that this latest benching may show the true colors of the relationship Kane has with Maurice. Apparently, Kane has been playing with an injury all season that he's chosen not to have surgery on, but he now could elect for that surgery to correct whatever ailment is affecting him. According to Lawless, that would prove there may be a major rift between player and coach, and it sounds as though the surgery would end his season and keep him from any further discipline his coach sees fit to impose.

If this is true and Kane elects for surgery, there is no reason to have him on this team any longer. While it's virtually impossible to trade an injured player, moving him at the NHL Entry Draft or anytime in the summer has to happen. At some point, you would have thought he'd learn how to be a professional, but his immaturity apparently isn't letting that happen.

I don't buy the track suit reason. Not at all. If Kane plays in Friday's game against Chicago and plays well, consider it "lesson learned". However, anything but a quality effort won't silence his detractors in this city who now have more ammo for their cause. The "trade Kane" chatter will light up the phone lines for call-in shows until the trade deadline if Kane doesn't start tapping into that potential we keep being fed.

Last season, Elliotte Friedman of then-CBC wrote in his 30 Thoughts article on April 7, 2014,
It just shows you how hard it is to win trades once a team decides it absolutely must get rid of someone - especially if that player has established himself as a true NHLer. If other clubs feel you're in a position of weakness, it's worse. Teams now have to ask themselves if they really tried all available options before giving up on skilled young talent.

That doesn't mean GM Kevin Cheveldayoff can't quietly test the market. And, it wouldn't be a surprise if the Jets, with an excess of defencemen, try to acquire another forward to increase their options.

But, if I was Cheveldayoff, I'd tell Kane, "Whether it's Paul Maurice or not, whoever coaches this team next year is going to be tasked with getting the best out of you. You're too valuable to give up on too early. So you better be ready for more of this."

"More of this" will include questions about his professionalism, his maturity, and his abilities. It will most definitely include more scrutiny from the fans, and I'm sure he and Paul Maurice will have differing opinions on some issues. The problem, as Elliotte pointed out, is giving up on a player of Kane's age, skill, and potential. It could come back to bite the Jets in the rear.

In the grand scheme of all of these dark clouds, there is only person who can fix this mess for good if he's truly interested in being a major contributor to the Jets' success. That person is Evander Kane.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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