I don't know Evander Kane. I don't pretend to. I have never met the man. That of course has not kept me from forming an opinion of the young forward during his brief stint as a member of the Winnipeg Jets. This opinion I have formed has come from watching him play a full season on the ice, as well as witnessing his antics on Twitter and hearing rumours (some unfounded, some not so much) about the way he carried himself off the ice. In my opinion, Kane is an immensely talented, young, cocky, 21-year-old who just might prove to be a massive P.R. disaster for the franchise.
You see, Kane has yet to arrive in Winnipeg to train with his teammates. Some of which he has never met before, and one in particular, Olli Jokinen, is likely to be the center on his line. You would think you might want to build a rapport with the guy who will very well be feeding you the biscuit all season. Oh well, to each his own I guess.
Now to tell the truth, Kane is not required to be in Winnipeg to train. None of the Jets are. Until such a time that the new CBA is ratified by the NHLPA. Kane has come out and stated that he isn't obligated to arrive until Saturday when camp starts and therefore will arrive in town on Friday night. Perhaps he has prior commitments. Perhaps he doesn't. I have no idea. One thing is for certain.......it looks bad on Kane to not be in town when 95% of his team is already on the ice together. Particularly when you have just signed a very large contract. To me, this latest decision speaks volumes as to where Kane's head currently is. Right or wrong, the court of public opinion is that Kane doesn't really care about anything but himself. Nor does he really care what anyone thinks. Not his teammates. Not the franchise he plays for. Not the fan base. Nobody. Well, unless it's Floyd Mayweather. From all accounts, Kane seems to care very much about the opinion of Mayweather. Only heaven knows why.
Kane has taken huge amounts of heat from the media and fans for his actions, and after his Twitter escapade in which he tweeted a photo of himself making a phone call to the aforementioned Mayweather using a huge brick of cash you would think he might want to do some damage control for his image. Nope. Not a chance. No apology. I understand he wasn't exactly filmed clubbing baby seals, but in this day and age it can be the minor infractions which damage you the most.
It's unfortunate too because Kane could be ADORED in this city if he could somehow mangage to change the way he acts.
It really wouldn't take much to change the way people view him either. It really wouldn't.
What you have to understand is that the love affair this city has with this team is palpable. The players don't have to be All-Stars. The city doesn't expect them to be, nor is it a pre-requisite for adoration. Winnipeg is a blue-collar city with a like-minded mentality. The city's residents are hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone types that expect the same from their players. To be honest, the city really only asks for two things from it's players....
Effort, and heart.
Players do not have to be talented for affection to be heaped on them. Case in point; the G.S.T. line from last season consisting of Tanner Glass, Jim Slater, and Chris Thorburn. Now this was not exactly a line that was going to be filling the opposing net. Yet the "G.S.T." chants rained down because they portrayed the very essence of what this city was all about. The fans could relate to that line. This fan base, given the opportunity to strap on the blades in an actual NHL game, might actually relish throwing a bone-jarring, rattle-the-boards, send-the-player-to-the-quiet-room body check, more than it would putting the puck top-shelf on Ryan Miller.
To be perfectly honest, I am not sure Kane will ever truly understand what this community needs from him. Either that, or he will opt not to care. Whatever he chooses, if Kane has a less than stellar start to the season after signing that big contract, it is entirely possible something might occur at the MTS Centre that as of yet hasn't happened. A Jets player will be booed. Up until this point, the thought of that happening has been......well......unthinkable.
Could it have happened last season ? Absolutely. The play of players like Randy Jones, Ron Hainsey, and Ondrej Pavelec (at times) definitely deserved hearing the boos. But the adoration prevailed. The fans didn't want the players thinking they weren't appreciated.
If Kane has a bad season, he's going to hear about it. It could get ugly.
Hell, even if Kane has a good season he could be moved via trade. He definitley has value, there is no questioning that. He should put up 20 goals in this abbreviated season, and if he does, he is a bargain. Kevin Cheveldayoff made sure that Kane's contract did not have a no-trade clause so the possibilities are endless in terms of what can happen. I have a feeling that this franchise will not put up with distraction and disrespect from any player.....40-goal scorer or not. It is my hope that Mark Chipman and Co. demand accountability from their players. They should demand it. If any player chooses not to toe the company line, they should go.
So Evander Kane has yet another choice to make in his young career. It will be very interesting to see which path he chooses.