If we’re all okay with taking some not-so-massive leaps here, I’m gonna go ahead and say that Evander Kane is not happy in Winnipeg, and the Jets aren’t too thrilled with him either.
The short version of the latest flare up is that the Jets were going to play in Toronto…
Evander Kane sitting behind the Raptors bench tonight drinking a beer.
— Hope_Smoke (@Hope_Smoke) April 5, 2014
…Kane went out, and it’s possible he had a bit too much fun.
Cryptic (and telling) quote from Paul Maurice on how Evander Kane can get back in the #NHLJets lineup: “Probably just come to the rink.”
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) April 6, 2014
Now, I don’t know that he slept in and missed a team event in the morning, but I know enough about hockey players, the lifestyle, and passive aggressiveness that I feel okay making that ca-raaaazy leap.
So, after that Kane was seen chatting with his agent in the hall (doesn’t mean anything, most players do, but when you’ve got another four years on your deal and just got healthy scratched as a young star “talking to your agent” certainly carries heavier overtones), and the next day he found himself in front of the camera, remorseful and apologetic about the unknown reasons for his absence.
Nah, I’m kidding, he was pretty indignant about the whole thing.
Anyway, I’m no expert at reading social cues, but if you don’t take a bit of “Eff this and eff you guys” from Kane, you’re probably kinda bad at reading them.
From there, it only gets better.
Evander Kane asked if he wanted to be traded? “I’m here to answer hockey questions, in terms of the game tonight.” #NHLJets
— Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) April 7, 2014
So, yeah. Kane wants out, and Winnipeg is boned.
The Jets are in a place that isn’t easy to lure free agents. Not that there’s anything wrong with Winnipeg, but it’s certainly not on par with other major American metropolis’ for rich young men – it’s just a bit smaller and colder, is all. Therefore, elite talent is hard to acquire, and when you finally draft and develop it, you desperately want to keep it.
Kane is a 6’2″ 22-year-old with a 30-goal season under his belt who was on pace for that number again during the lockout shortened season. This year has not gone as well, but he’s threatening 20 goals after playing 60 games. He clearly still has game.
But I’ve seen relationships crumble between players and teams before, and when the guy doesn’t want to be there, he simply doesn’t want to be there. You can put him in the lineup just like you can lead a horse to water, but he’s got to want to drink for himself, if I may George Bush that expression.
And so, you simply have to move him.
For the Jets, you’re moving an asset that’s never been lower in value. He still has a contract that takes him through his scoring prime, he’s only going to get better…but his slower offensive season combined with his off-ice issues (here’s another one of those, by the way) are going to make people wonder whether or not they’re buying a guy they can turn into a superstar (a la Tyler Seguin, from Boston to Dallas) or a guy who’s never going to learn who’s going to cause them headaches.
At this point, the Jets just lose. It sucks, but the player doesn’t seem to want to be there, the coach they seem to want (Paul Maurice) and him are butting heads, and like in real life, some relationships are simply beyond repair.
I’m on the outside with no inside knowledge. But everything I’ve seen says to me that Kane wants out, and would benefit from a fresh start. The team, on the other hand don’t have much of a choice if he won’t fully commit to being his best for them. I can’t see him in a Jets jersey next October.