At some point by now, you would think that the National Hockey League would have had Evander Kane sit down for a bit, either as discipline, or to help him get his life on track.
In 2016, Kane was sued in Buffalo by a woman who said Kane attacked her in his hotel room. Later that year, Kane was involved in separate incidents at a Buffalo-area bar that resulted in charges, which were eventually dismissed after he stayed out of further trouble for six months. But in 2019, Kane found himself back in hot water, sued by the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, a resort and casino, after allegedly walking out on a half-million dollars’ worth of debt. That suit was dropped last year, but this year, Kane ran into more trouble, filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in California with $26.8 million in debt and getting sued by Professional Bank over an unpaid loan.
During all that time, Kane’s interaction with the league office has been a three-game suspension for abuse of officials during the 2019 preseason and a three-game suspension for elbowing in a 2020 regular-season game. He also was suspended by the Sabres for missing a practice after attending the 2016 NBA All-Star Game.
All of this stuff has just kind of happened, with no intervention from the league. After all, it didn’t involve the league, did it? Having looked the other way for so long, the NHL now finds itself in a mess that it has to address. Anna Kane, Evander’s wife, posted a harrowing story on Instagram about what’s been going on, from more off-ice trouble to an on-ice accusation that represents a five-alarm fire for the NHL.
Among Anna Kane’s claims are that Evander left and did not call her for a week at the beginning of July; that when he finally did call, it came with the news that their house was being seized by the bank; that she would need to sell her wedding ring to get money for baby formula while he was partying in Europe… and finally the one that sends a chill up Sixth Avenue: “Can someone ask Gary Bettman how they can let a player gamble on his own games? Bet and win with bookies on his own games?”
And, no, there’s not a flawed kind of Pete Rose defense here that Evander Kane was betting on himself. Anna Kane explicitly said, “How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games to win money?” Hmm, maybe someone needs to address this.
Finally, the NHL will do just that, after five years of near-constant warning signs about Kane’s behavior.
Here’s a statement from the league:
The League was made aware this evening of a post on social media alleging that San Jose Sharks Player Evander Kane bet on NHL games. The integrity of our game is paramount and the League takes these allegations very seriously.
We intend to conduct a full investigation and will have no further comment at this time.
Kane had 22 goals and 27 assists this past season for the Sharks, leading the team in both categories. The 29-year-old’s worst stretch of the season coincided with San Jose’s eight-game losing streak in April, when any outside shot at a playoff berth was long gone. During that period, Kane’s only two goals were a shorthanded goal in the third period of a 3-2 loss at Minnesota, and a tally at home against the Wild that cut a third-period deficit to 5-2. If that April swoon by the Sharks isn’t where the NHL’s investigation begins, the league doesn’t know what it’s doing.
Then again, if the NHL knew what it was doing, the league would have been involved long ago in the story of a player with a history of off-ice trouble, gambling issues, and millions of dollars of debt. It shouldn’t have to get to a point where the wife of a man with a history of violence toward women is the one to publicly call him out, possibly putting herself in danger.
Kane has denied the accusations, calling them completely false.
Ignoring things and hoping they go away is standard operating procedure for the NHL, which still has nothing to say about the situation in Chicago, where video coach Brad Aldrich’s alleged abuse was swept under the rug for more than a decade and details continue to trickle out. But that, like Kane’s previous woes, never posed a threat to the NHL’s bottom line — and as sports gambling becomes more and more mainstream, the biggest reason that the “integrity of our game is paramount” is that the casinos tell them so.