If we’re midway through another NHL season or thereabouts, it must mean that Evander Kane has fucked up in some way.
We would say “San Jose’s Evander Kane,” except the Sharks are punting Kane off their team in the most thorough way possible. They’re terminating his contract. You’d think a third team deciding it can’t put up with Kane’s shit anymore would be a sign that maybe he just doesn’t belong in the league. But this is pro sports, and getting talent on the cheap will always take precedence over a guy providing all the evidence in the world he’s a tool.
Kane’s latest balls-up, and apparently his last as a Shark, was yet another violation of COVID protocols. You may recall that before the season began, Kane faked his vaccination status and got suspended for 21 games. Kane had begun a stint with the Sharks’ AHL team, also in San Jose, but had entered isolation after testing positive for COVID on Dec. 21. Funny thing about isolation, it doesn’t involve flying to Vancouver on your own eight days later. Kane also returned to the Barracuda, the AHL team, some six days after they expected him to, which was when his 10-day isolation period was over on Dec. 31.
The Sharks certainly didn’t need much of an invitation to do whatever possible to get out from under the remaining money owed to him on his seven-year, $49 million contract (four years after this one). Kane definitely gave them an out, but he’s been giving them and any other employer an out since just after he came into the league in 2009.
Kane, 30, was the same headache and asshole he has been in Atlanta/Winnipeg and Buffalo. This is the same guy who faced two accusations of sexual assault in Buffalo. His lawyer lawyer denied any wrongdoing. Who faced domestic abuse accusations from his ex-wife (though it should be noted Kane was given full custody of their daughter in December). His lawyer denies any abuse here as well. He’s the same guy who was sued by a Vegas casino. Or the one who was accused of betting on his own team’s games. He denied doing such. He missed a practice in Buffalo because he appeared to have partied too hard from hanging out at the NBA All-Star Game. He’s the same guy that his Jets teammates hated so much they chucked all his clothes into the shower. And then throw on the fake vaccination card and the unsanctioned jaunt to Vancouver.
But that won’t stop teams from giving him a call now that his Sharks’ contract is dust:
Is Kane a good player? Yeah, that’s hard to argue against. He has seven 20-goal seasons, put up 30 in the last normal season the NHL had, and had 22 in just 56 games last year. Any good team could find room for that on their second or third lines, in a vacuum.
But the question about Kane, strictly on the ice, is whether or not he’s a, “Yeah but who gives a shit?” guy. In 11 NHL seasons, Kane has six playoff goals. He’s played on just two playoff teams, which isn’t necessarily his fault but also might indicate that he’s gotten big-time minutes to pad his goal-totals because he’s been on garbage teams.
Combine that with the inescapable conclusion that he’s a dressing-room anchor, and one wonders why everyone is in such a hurry to sign him. The accusations of sexual assault and domestic abuse should have been enough to sideline Kane for at least a while, but we don’t live in that world. Kane appears to be a less-successful, hockey version of Trevor Bauer.
Could Kane destroy a team’s Stanley Cup hopes by merely being there? It’s not really the question we should be asking: Would both the league, and Kane himself, be better off without each other, probably is. But every GM wants to believe in “the power of the room” they have. They’ll point out that in San Jose, when Joe Thornton, Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Marc-Eduoard Vlasic were around to form a strong leadership base, Kane played his best and most important hockey. And every GM is convinced they have that structure in place.
What most of these teams don’t seem to realize is that Kane has never really faced any consequences for his actions. There’s always been a team willing to trade for him in the past when the last one could take no more. This past suspension was the only major one he’s faced, and he still flouted the rules during the fucking thing. So it’s likely that whatever’s next is worse than what came before, not better.
But this is the NHL, so we’re going to find out.