The fella at the centre of attention this week in the NHL – and for all the wrong reasons – is Evander Kane. This week Kane had to face the music following the latest on a long list of shenanigans.
Last Saturday the San José Sharks placed Kane on waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract "for breach of his NHL standard player contract and for violation of the AHL COVID-19 protocols." Kane was in the fourth year of a seven year deal worth $7 million per year. This was no slap on the wrist. He is due to lose just under $23 million. Kane was not claimed by another team in the waivers process, freeing the Sharks to terminate his contract.
The straw that broke the camel’s back was an incident in the AHL in December. He had been placed on the AHL’s COVID-19 protocol list on Dec. 22, but reportedly travelled before his quarantine period ended, and then returned late to the San José Barracuda on Jan. 6.
A gifted goal scorer, playmaker, and an intimidating physical presence, Evander Kane always seems to have more than enough off-ice conflict lurking around. In 2016 he was the subject of a lawsuit for assaulting a woman and harassment charges following an incident at a bar. In 2019 he was sued by a Vegas casino for unpaid gambling debts. He filed for bankruptcy in 2021.
In the 2021 off-season, Kane’s wife publicly accused him of betting on and then throwing his own games. In Sept. 2021, Kane’s wife sought a restraining order against him for physical and sexual abuse. The NHL investigated the sets of allegations but were unable to substantiate.
In Oct. 2021 the NHL investigated Kane for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. He was ultimately suspended for 21 games, and upon return from suspension was placed on waivers and demoted to the AHL. He had played just five games with the Barracuda when the incident leading to termination occurred.
You’d think all of this might be enough to end a professional hockey career. Not so. The NHLPA has filed a grievance on behalf of Kane, and other teams are lining up for the opportunity to land a 30-goal scorer at a reduced price. By the time you are reading this, Kane may already be wearing a new team’s sweater.
The team in the Eye of the Hurri-Kane is the Edmonton Oilers. On Tuesday, Jan. 11, GM Ken Holland held a press conference after multiple requests from the media following the Oilers poor showings in recent weeks. The Oilers were in first place in the NHL at the beginning of December but have recently fallen out of playoff position.
When asked about interest in signing Evander Kane as a free agent, Holland responded that as a manager it is his responsibility to investigate every situation. He said he believes in “second” chances – with this calculation, it’s hard to believe he oversees a multi-million dollar organization. The Oilers undoubtedly need what Kane brings on the ice, but Holland would be taking his own gamble here. I’m not sure the Oilers need the off-ice controversy included in the Kane package.
On a funnier note, Holland said they need better goaltending. It’s a little bit like saying you need to get rid of a headache while holding the hammer that is pounding your own skull. Holland has now had three off-seasons to address goaltending. One of those off-seasons had a terrific goalie market, and another had strong netminders available at the draft, and he has failed.
The Edmonton situation is the perfect pot for a trade rumour to brew. The Oilers are rumoured to be interested in Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price. The Habs have not yet announced a rebuild but are expected to explore the trade market for some core players. If Price becomes available he will have suitors. But with that contract, and the questions surrounding his health and wellness, a deadline deal seems like a long shot.
We can expect more on the rumour front as the March 21 trade deadline approaches.
The NBA trade deadline comes first, on Feb. 10. The Toronto Raptors are unexpectedly in the playoff conversation with their recent six straight wins. Masai Ujiri will have a decision to make about whether they will be buyers. The Raptors are clearly growing into something great, but today the question is whether they are good enough to spend assets to try and compete for a playoff spot.
It’s possible that the savvy Ujiri will do a little buying and selling. Goran Dragic has been questionable for the Raptors since he was acquired as part of the Lowry deal. If there is interest at the deadline, Ujiri will be happy to move him for a pick or a younger player. Chris Boucher, a free agent at the end of this season, may also be on the move. With younger players competing for time with Boucher, Ujiri may try to move him for picks, or perhaps to fill a hole where there is less depth.
We may be in the depths of winter, but things are about to heat up in the NBA.
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreational softball player and coach, and new ukulele-ist. Originally from NL and now based in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat or debate, as long as it remains respectful. She posts game time thoughts on twitter as @lori10habs.