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Evander Kane’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors for the better part of his tenure in Winnipeg. His legs are likely exhausted from trying to outpace the media that’s attempted to run him out of town for about the same duration, for such abhorrent offenses as using a stack of money as a phone and not reporting to Winnipeg Jets camp three days before it begins.
The notion that he won’t be a Jet when his four remaining contract years are up isn’t something Evander Kane has invented, nor is it a fire he’s emphatically fueled. Has he had fun with it? Certainly: Favoriting a tweet that mentioned his potential trade to the Philadelphia Flyers is tweaking the media, team and fans. But it’s hardly a public trade demand.
But because Evander Kane and scrutiny go together like black hockey players and “brashness” in the media, here comes the latest flare-up: Kane told TSN 1040 in Vancouver that he’s a Winnipeg Jet “right now.”
The question was, “Do you want to play for the Winnipeg Jets anymore?”
"Well, I think I'm a Winnipeg Jet right now. And, you know, there's been speculation and rumors the three years since I got there. So, you know, we'll see what happens and we'll carry on as if I'm a Winnipeg Jet,” said Kane.
"There's not a yes in there," noted the host, Matt Sekeres. "And some Jets fans might say you know, why doesn't he want to play for us? Why isn't he absolutely fully on board for playing for us? You're shaking your finger at me."
Said Kane: "No, I think ... I'm training hard and getting ready for this season. Last summer I didn't have a full summer of training due to some surgery I had, so I found it really important for me to start training early and get myself in the best shape possible for the upcoming season. So that’s my focus.”
Here's the full audio from that interview, courtesy the Team 1040:
This response earned him the “drama queen” label from the local TSN affiliate in Winnipeg, as the hosts declared that Kane was in danger of driving a wedge through the Jets dressing room and decreasing his own trade value with this overt acknowledgement that he wanted out. Which likely reads more into the statement than Kane intended, but Evander Kane and “coding” are also pretty synonymous in the Winnipeg media.
Sekeres has taken some hits for asking the question, but our only issue with it is the phrasing: It’s not whether or not he wants to play for the Jets, it’s whether Kane can explain why he’d want to continue playing for them.
It’s a non-playoff team that’s going to be buried in the Central Division for the foreseeable future. It’s a city that can’t attract free agents, and a franchise whose general manager seems married to both a core of players that’s never won and a goaltender that could be the worst starter in the NHL.
One imagines Evander Kane would like to appear in the playoffs again after making it with the Vancouver Giants in 2009 as a 17 year old in the WHL. When does that happen in Winnipeg?
Off the ice … well, as the Jets experienced their honeymoon, Kane and the city were drawing up separation papers. It’s their perception of him as a young athlete of color, and his immaturity as a celebrity that can act like a catalyst for that reaction. Put the blame wherever you’d like, but it’s clear by now that this isn’t the market for Evander Kane. It’ll never be.
So why would Evander Kane want to play for Winnipeg Jets anymore? To be out of the playoffs? To hear his name on the trading block continually? To have every tweet, photo and townie whisper about skipped checks at a local restaurant scrutinized in a way his lower profile white teammates don’t have their social media history scrutinized?
In the words of Evander Kane, “we'll see what happens.”