Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Kane Scratched As Jets Nation Implodes

Evander Kane has been a bit of let-down this season in terms of his production. The 23 year-old is on pace for his worst offensive season to date, and he had been mired in a slump that has seen him move down to be a regular on the third-line. You could understand if there's some frustration on Kane's part, the Jets' part, and the fans' part when it comes to this season, but something went down internally between the end of the Flames game on Monday and today's finalized lineup that now has Kane sitting as a "coach's decision". Evander Kane at odds with a coach? When has that happened before?

Paul Maurice was less-than-revealing when it came to the reasons Kane was sat in his post-game interview. "Coaches decision not to be in the lineup tonight," Maurice stated bluntly to reporters. Despite the grammatical error made by the Winnipeg Free Press' Paul Wiecek, the coach has no obligation to explain why he sat a third-line winger who has struggled to do much of anything all season. No one seems to question Maurice when a guy like Matt Halischuk or Anthony Peluso sits, so why is Kane different?

Pretty sure it has something to do with expectations.

Evander Kane scored 30 goals in 74 games in 2011-12, and everyone thought that he was the next bonafide sniper for this Jets squad. In the three seasons since - including this one - Kane has dented the twine just 46 times in 148 games. Perhaps we put too much faith in those 30 goals. Perhaps we set our expectations a wee bit too high for this player. After all, he's been nothing more than a capable second-liner to an overpaid third-liner for the better parts of three seasons. He's shown flashes of brilliance, but he continually makes the same mistakes over and over again that exceptional players correct.

Maybe Evander Kane is NOT an exceptional player.

People on social media went ballistic tonight, but they forget one thing: hockey is a game of wins and losses. The Jets, having been spanked in four straight games where they gave up five goals in each, need a considerably concerted effort in their own zone against a solid Vancouver team. Kane, for his part, had a seven-point January in ten games, but his recent play saw him backcheck poorly, record few hits, shoot from the top of the offensive zone face-off circles once more, and avoid heading into high-traffic areas where goals scored.

In other words, he's not doing his job.

Sitting him in his hometown sends a very clear message about how Maurice wants to see the game played. I can't say that's the reason for the trip to the press box, but I'm guessing that would be the case from his recent play. Uninspired? Check. Lackadaisical? Check. Needing improvement? Check and double-check.

With the next four games being four-point games against Chicago, Colorado, Minnesota, and Nashville, the Jets could easily claw their way back into a chance to finish in third-place in the Central Division. They sit just four points behind third-place Chicago as of tonight, so Friday's game could be extremely big in terms of determining where those two teams finish. The Jets need to be ready to play, and playing like Kane did in the last three games won't earn the Jets any points.

Personally, I like the move. Kane needs to be locked in every night if he's going to be part of the core of this team. If he's not willing to do his job exactly as his coach wants him to, he doesn't deserve a spot on the roster. Paul Maurice has the last word on everything happening on the ice, and his word is gospel as long as he's employed. If Kane doesn't like sitting, he better start playing his role a little better.

Message sent. Whether it was received will remain to be seen.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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