Saturday, 19 November 2016

Unwanted Star

If there was ever a villain in today's NHL, Evander Kane might be the best fit. Often in trouble with the law, it seems he's alienating fans and teammates when he's not saying things that land him in hot water. The Sabres are reportedly trying to move him and it sounded like there was interest from one team in particular in the Vancouver Canucks. Kane played junior hockey with the WHL Giants and spends his off-seasons the British Columbia city, and it seemed that the Canucks were willing to take Kane off the Sabres' hands for the right price. However, it seems the Sabres were asking a pretty penny for the troubled winger, and the Canucks balked at the deal that was rumoured to be on the verge of happening.

"The story is that they did call and there were some conversations and John Weisbrod, the assistant general manager of the Canucks, was on the scouting list on Thursday night in Buffalo, which sent us all to DEFCON one," Elliotte Friedman reported on the "Headlines" segment of Hockey Night in Canada. "The word is Vancouver was not willing to pay the price that Buffalo was asking."

You have to wonder who the Sabres were asking for when it came to a trade for Kane, but I'm guessing there were some good young players on their want list. Perhaps players like Olli Juolevi, Ben Hutton, or Thatcher Demko were targeted by GM Tim Murray as he looks to improve his woeful team, but the Canucks ultimately decided that the risk of taking on Kane, who has scored 30 goals just once in his career, wasn't worth mortgaging the future.

Well done, Vancouver, on using some common sense.

Evander Kane wore out his welcome in Winnipeg pretty quickly before GM Kevin Cheveldayoff orchestrated a fleecing of the Sabres to divest the Jets of Kane and his tomfoolery. Buffalo sent some decent pieces, some good prospects, and a pick to Winnipeg in a deal in which they have yet to see immediate returns. Kane and Bogosian cannot stay healthy while netminder Jason Kasdorf looks like he's be a serviceable netminder, but not the next Dominik Hasek. The gem of the trade, according to Tim Murray, was Kane, a player he'd coveted for some time.

The problem with Kane is that boasts about his goal-scoring prowess without delivering are the norm, he seems to be a bit of a paper player as he's on and off the injured list, and his numerous run-ins with the law off the ice have soured the vast majority of the league. He has his first 20-goal season last year since 2011-12, and he's on pace for... well, he only has one assist in seven games thus far. He's played in 65 games last season, only the second time since 2011-12 he's played in 60-or-more games in season. He got himself in a lot of hot water this summer with an incident at a Buffalo night club. Yet the Canucks had been rumoured to be looking at taking the winger in as far back as July 2016.

Kristina Rutherford wrote an excellent piece on Evander Kane that every GM should keep in their back pocket when looking at the winger. Kane is right in that hockey is an entertainment business, but Kane seems to revel in the fact that he thinks it's a reality show starring him. While none of the Jets said anything negative about Kane prior to the trade to Buffalo, Rutherford did get the following quotation from Winnipeg's Chris Thorburn,
... fans associate that wet track suit and those stacks of money with Kane. But if you talk to friends and teammates, at least half the picture’s not accurate. In December, Thorburn laughed when asked whether the money pictures posted to Instagram are a good representation of who Evander Kane is. "No, that's not who Kaner is," he said. "He's a very caring guy, a good friend to have. But he does wear his flashy suits, his sunglasses, his headphones. He puts on a show."
That last line is the most important one to remember: "he puts on a show." He may have natural charisma, but it's overshadowed by his need to be the center of attention. Kane might be a good teammate, but he'd be a great teammate if he devoted as much time to his work on the ice as his does to his showmanship off of it. He has the ability, but he's more concerned with the cameras and quotes that get his face on the news.

Million-dollar talent, ten-cent head?

This is the same guy who told reporters on Thursday after a 4-1 loss to Tampa Bay,
"It must be a joke floating around the league: You score two goals against the Buffalo Sabres and you're going to win the hockey game," Kane said.

"We've got to have more guys that want to be a difference maker, want to have the puck on their stick. We've got to be harder to play against."
Quick reminder: zero goals, one assist on the season. You have no right to call anyone out when you can't do what you were brought into Buffalo to do. The Sabres are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, and Evander Kane is a major part of that problem. If he were the leading goal-scorer on the team, fine. But he has yet to light a lamp and he's calling out his teammates? This is why teams don't want him.

There is no doubt that the offensively-anemic Canucks need some goal-scoring. The Loui Eriksson experiment has yet to bear any fruit. The Sedins are struggling. Brandon Sutter, Jannik Hansen, Alexandre Burrows, and Derek Dorsett have yet to carry any of the load for the Canucks. Is adding a petulant 26 year-old who has been anything but a consistent scorer in the NHL the right answer? No, it's clearly not. Add in the selfish attitude and off-ice issues, and the Canucks are better off just walking away.

For a guy with no goals on the season, Kane better start making some goals off the ice for himself. His time in hockey might come to an end sooner than he thinks when his contract expires. I doubt there are many teams willing to put up with a me-first guy who has as many NHL goals as I do this season.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

1 comment:

Peter Santellan said...

Thank bleep that the Canucks decided to actually be smart for the first time in two seasons. Between inexplicably putting Dorsett on a line with the Sedins for a game to their mishandling of Jake Virtanen (and yes, Virtanen should shoulder some of the blame here, too) to who knows why they didn't get a return for Dan Hamhuis when they had a chance, the Canucks are almost becoming a circus act in themselves.