Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Look At Me!

I struggled with how to write this article while staying somewhat objective. I could literally unleash a rant that would tell all my feelings about the treatment that Evander Kane received versus what he perceived he received, but I won't. Evander Kane doesn't deserve that kind of attention. For a guy who is sitting on the sidelines with an injury again, he seems to have a hard time letting go of the place he so desperately wanted to leave. Evander Kane spoke to Ken Campbell of The Hockey News where he said a few things about the Winnipeg Jets, the city of Winnipeg, and, in turn, the fans in Winnipeg that seems to indicate that he just can't let go.

The thing is that most of Winnipeg has let go, and there's where the rub comes in. All Evander Kane is doing is stirring the pot to ensure that he's the center of attention in Winnipeg once more. He doesn't deserve any attention from this city, his former club, or his teammates, but here we are talking about him once again.

The more I think about Evander Kane and his reluctance to distance himself from a place he reportedly "asked for a trade every off-season", the more I come to realize that he's just a petulant jerk. He continues to try to stick it to Winnipeg and blame the team and fans for his poor reception in this hockey town, but he doesn't seem to realize that the negativity he received came about because of his lackadaisical effort on the ice and his terrible attitude within the dressing room.

The following comment is probably a prime example of how Evander Kane simply lives in a fantasy world.
"There are a lot of guys I could point to that everybody knows publicly who have done a lot worse or been accused of doing a lot worse things than I have," Kane told THN, "but they don’t look like me. They don’t look like me."
Kane was a social media disaster for the most part, retweeting proposed fantasy trades to other teams and posting photographs with stacks of money that simply doesn't fit the part in terms of the expectations of star athletes in Winnipeg. We've had bigger stars than Kane play here before - Selanne, Housley, CFL's Matt Dunigan, CFL's Milt Stegall - and not one of them felt the need to show off how much money they made. To suggest that they "don't look like me" is a very convenient way to both stick it to Winnipeg and escape the responsibility that comes with demanding equal treatment among these star athletes.

While some will point and say, "Winnipeg does have a racism problem", I can certainly assure you that being a black Canadian man is rarely a problem in this city. All he needed to do was look down the bench at Dustin Byfuglien to see that Winnipeg isn't focusing on the colour of Kane's skin, so it must be something else. Byfuglien is one of the fan favorites in this city - partly because of what he did to Kane in Vancouver with the track suit incident - but we want the big fella to do well. He's an incredible player who gets more cheers based on the output of his effort. Evander Kane couldn't connect those dots, and, as a result, couldn't figure out why he was being booed when he floated a lazy wrist shot into the goalie's chest from just inside the blue line for another face-off.

The other aspect of "they don’t look like me" that can be construed from his comments is that Winnipeg is a blue-collar town, and the vast majority of the 15,000 people sitting in the stands paying Evander Kane's salary while he was here don't have stacks of money to show off with in Las Vegas. I get that Evander is a younger man with a pile of riches beyond his wildest dreams, and that this can occasionally lead to mistakes in terms of poor taste. It happens. It's a lesson and one is expected to learn from it, but he celebrated his "joke" by making another joke. We, in Winnipeg, appreciate a little humility when it comes to the amount of money star athletes are making. We want our stars to be one of us in terms of loving this city, and the guys who have bought into that mentality are loved by the fans - Ladd, Wheeler, and Byfuglien for example.

Evander Kane never got that aspect of the city. Kane would rarely be seen at events not associated with the team. There are no reports of Kane showing up at the Winnipeg Children's Hospital while he was a member of the Jets, and you have to wonder if "giving back" is even in his vocabulary. I would often see players like Zach Bogosian, Mark Stuart, Andrew Ladd, Jay Harrison, and Mark Scheifele at events around the city, but good ol' #9 was never seen at events meeting fans. It's this humility and giving back that we, as fans, appreciate. While I'm not saying that Kane needed to be at every event, just showing up to a few places and seeing the masses that wanted to like him so much could have saved a portion of his reputation. Instead, Kane came off as a petulant jerk with every half-hearted denial about his wanting to be in Winnipeg.

He should return, barring any further injuries, to Winnipeg on January 10 when his Buffalo Sabres visit MTS Centre. He should expect a chorus of boos, but I think the most appropriate thing that Jets fans could do is to ignore him altogether. Watch the game as if he's just another fourth-line plugger who is trying to extend his time in the NHL with a good shift or two. The last thing Jets fans need to do, though, is give him the attention he so desperately seeks from us.

As Andrew Ladd said today, "We've moved on, and maybe he should, too", fans should take this to heart and ignore the attention-seeking jerk altogether. He might score a goal. He may put up an assist with a spectacular seeing-eye pass. He could drop the gloves with Ladd and/or Wheeler as he seems to so desperately want.
Let's be real here, though. If he came in and threw a Gordie Howe hat trick up on the scoresheet, there shouldn't be any reaction from Jets fans other than "let's go, Jets". Evander Kane is last year's news in Winnipeg, and we need to move forward even if he can't. For a guy who didn't want to be here, he continually tries to, and often succeeds, in getting Winnipeg to talk about him.

As someone once said, the worst thing about being talked about is not being talked about. It's time we bought into that thought process. Evander Kane simply isn't worth the time or effort in his desperate attempts for attention. In other words, like a tantrum-throwing toddler, if we ignore him, he'll eventually tire himself out.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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