When Evander Kane was scratched by Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice for the team's game against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday, the air-raid siren that I imagine goes off in Winnipeg every time the power forward's name is mentioned must have been on full blast.
According to Winnipeg Free Press writer Gary Lawless, Kane was booted up to the press box because he wore a sweatsuit to a team meeting instead of an actual suit, a violation of team rules.
For Kane's detractors in Winnipeg, this was yet another example of the youngster's bad attitude, hatred for his team and the city and so on. I'm a little more forgiving on the topic.
I'm not going to defend Kane's alleged goof-up, because he's been in the NHL long enough to know what the day-to-day rules are. I'm sure this wasn't his first mid-day team meeting and whether he was in too much of a hurry or just thought Maurice would let his fashion choice slide, there's no excuse.
I'm still not going to demonize Kane, however. Because in the annals of NHL history, his "rap sheet" in Winnipeg has been anything but devious. He has taken photos with stacks of money in Las Vegas. He has shaved a tribute to a rap label he likes into his hair. The most serious news item is a lawsuit filed by a man who claims Kane assaulted him in downtown Vancouver – though Kane claimed self-defense and no charges were filed against him by Vancouver police.
Throw out that last one for a second, because nothing has been proven yet and hockey players have been falsely accused of such things in the past. Boil down the rest of it and you have a whole lot of nothing.
Look, I'm not blind…Kane and Winnipeg do not appear to have a great relationship right now. A player who has scored 30 goals in one season while playing a physical game and possessing one of the strongest punches in the NHL should not be on the third line, but that's the reality.
Kane's future in Winnipeg will likely not be long-term and the duration will be based on how high GM Kevin Cheveldayoff's asking price is. While the left winger should have known better than to violate the team's dress code, I still don't think he's some kind of monster or diva. He just needs to be a bit smarter when it comes to his actions…because all eyes are on him locally, whether it's fair or not.