Evander Kane will be out the Winnipeg jets lineup for the remainder of the season and the playoffs, which is probably the best thing for everyone involved given the circumstances. Now both Kane and the Jets will be able to chart a course for the future that isn’t based on emotion.
Hall of Famer Doug Gilmour used to love the practical jokes that are such a big part of hockey culture. He recalled that when he was with the St. Louis Blues, players would often light team broadcaster Dan Kelly’s newspaper on fire during team flights. Think about that for a minute.
Guys would dunk doughnuts into wax that looked exactly like glaze. Or pump Vaseline into the jelly filled ones. But the best one Gilmour ever witnessed occurred when Gilmour played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1990s.
One day, veteran Kirk Muller threw all Tie Domi’s gear into the hot tub. Domi, confronted Muller, telling him to swear on his children that he didn’t do it. Muller, who was getting treatment at the time, refused to do so and an irate Domi, convinced Muller was the culprit, took all the gear out of Muller’s stall and threw it into the hot tub.
When Muller returned to the dressing room, he calmly walked over to Jamie Baker’s stall and started putting on his equipment there. Turns out Muller knew how Domi would react and, knowing he’d be correctly fingered as the guilty party, switched all his gear with Baker’s.
Domi went bonkers. The way Tie Domi used to go bonkers. Which is to say he was probably laughing about the whole thing an hour later and by the next day had forgotten about it. Near as anyone knows, neither Domi nor Baker was terribly indignant about the dressing room prank. And unlike Evander Kane did in Vancouver earlier this week, neither bailed on his teammates before a game nor created the cause celebre that Kane did.
We don’t know whether Kane having his sweat suit thrown in the shower was just a harmless dressing room prank or part of a more sinister subtext because none of us occupies that dressing room as our workplace. If it’s a toxic environment for Kane, then there are problems in that organization that run much deeper than we could imagine.
But one thing is certain. The news that broke Friday afternoon that Kane has apparently elected to have season-ending shoulder surgery, while not fortuitous for either Kane or the Jets, may end up being the best development that could have transpired in this scenario.
Prior to that announcement, it had been assumed that Kane was destined to be dealt before the March 2 trade deadline for way, way under market value. When teams are painted into a corner and put into a position where they must trade a player, they never, ever get equal return on him. Depending upon the perspective, Kane is a potential 30-goal scorer and blossoming power forward or huge underachiever with attitude issues. But he has three years left on a deal that is pretty cap-friendly and there would have been no shortage of teams circling the carcass of the situation ready to pick the Jets clean.
That won’t happen now. But even more, it will give everyone in the organization a chance to sit back, take a breath and make a decision on Kane’s future with a much clearer head. The worst thing for the Jets would have been to rush themselves into a deal where they got shortchanged, then risk watching Kane go to another organization and finally “get it,” much the way Tyler Seguin did with the Boston Bruins.
But more than anything, it gets Kane out of the Jets dressing room. There seemed to be no way, in the short-term at least, that Kane could walk back into that room as though nothing had happened and everyone would go along their merry way. He had to be removed. And now he has been, for what looks like a considerable amount of time.
More importantly, it will give Kane the opportunity to reflect on where he is in his career and how he fits into this organization. Ever since the move from Atlanta, the Jets and Kane have never seemed like a very good match. His off-ice flamboyance has never really flown so well in a town where people like their players to be humble, the way Thomas Steen was, not a guy who hangs out with rap artists and gets things like ‘YMCMB’ – which stands for Young Money Cash Money Billionaires – shaved into the side of his head.
Does Kane really want to be in Winnipeg for the long haul? Do the Jets want him there or would everyone be better off if he were traded? They’re all valid questions, but now they can be decided upon with cooler heads on both sides than would have been the case if the Jets had been forced to deal him at the deadline.
If this rehab goes the full six months, Kane won’t be able to start full workouts until early August, just a month before training camp. That may scuttle any opportunity the Jets would have had to deal him at the draft, when the players who are still under long-term deals tend to get dealt now. Teams may look at Kane and see a player who has off-ice issues, is coming off major surgery and hasn’t been a 30-goal man for three seasons and they might still not be willing to come up with an equal-value trade package.
That, then, might force the Jets to put him back in the lineup next season and see if he can raise his trade value with his play. It also might give everyone the time that’s needed to heal this rift. And if they can’t do it in the time that the Kane surgery has afforded them, then its irreparable and everyone will move on.