Winnipeg Jets left winger Evander Kane was no stranger to criticism from the local media in 2012, mostly over his on-ice performance and rumored off-ice behaviour.
A picture Kane recently posted on Twitter showing him on a Las Vegas hotel balcony holding bricks of money elicited scorn from pundits and fans, who accused him of insensitivity as some hockey fans struggle to make ends meet.
It also spurred Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press to suggest Kane’s days with the Jets may be numbered.
Though the Jets re-signed Kane to a six-year, $31.5 million contract extension in September, Lawless believes Kane’s off-ice antics (unfounded rumors of him skipping out on a restaurant bill) and lack of contrition will eventually force GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to trade him.
Lawless also claimed, “Kane isn’t very coachable” and ignored the advice of teammates, “on certain subjects.” Despite the winger’s expensive new contract, Lawless feels the palatable cap hit ($5.25 million per season) makes Kane a “portable” asset that other clubs would covet.
The flap over Kane’s picture faded during the holiday season and after recent lockout news and there’s been no comment from Jets management over the matter.
Regardless, the incident was much ado about nothing. Yes, Kane is a rich young athlete, but his Twitter picture was meant as a joke aimed at boxer Floyd Mayweather, not an insensitive taunt toward cash-strapped fans.
Nothing in that photo was outrageous, let alone justifies suggestions he’s on borrowed time with the Jets. Cheveldayoff won’t base player movement decisions on a Twitter picture and unfounded rumors.
If Kane ignores teammates and coaches, it wasn’t indicative by his on-ice performance.
Last season was Kane’s best to date, netting 57 points. He led the Jets in goals (30) and plus-minus (plus-11), tied for the team lead in power play goals (six), was second in team points and third in game-winning goals (4) and hits (173). More impressively, he achieved those numbers while lacking a center of equal or greater skill on his line.
Despite his solid performance, Kane was dogged by trade rumors in 2012. Last August, there was speculation suggesting he wanted out of Winnipeg. It was subsequently dismissed by his agent and the team – and three weeks later he re-signed with the Jets.
Re-signing Kane to a lengthy new contract indicates Cheveldayoff still has faith the youngster will blossom into a franchise player. It’s possible, however, the young winger could eventually tire of the negative media spotlight in Winnipeg and demand a trade. Hopefully, it won’t come to that.
The 21-year-old Kane might be immature, but so are most people his age, regardless of profession. It is certainly no reason to suggest the Jets should shop him. If every NHL team gave up on immature young players, there would be a constant flow of them bouncing from team to team each year.
Like most young NHL stars his age, Kane will mature over time. As he does, he will become a much better player, which will only benefit the Jets over the long term.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and Kukla’s Korner.