– Scott Goodwin
How could a dynamic forward such as Evander Kane be stuck in the shadows during the summer of 2015? Tim Murray made a bold move on February 11th which reminded fans that the general manager is on a different side of the spectrum of dithering Darcy Regier, the GM he is replacing. The new general manager proved his uncanny ability to take risk that has a high payout. Tim Murray states his willingness to enhance the role of the former Winnipeg star turned outcast:
“He wanted a change of scenery and in his mind probably wanted a more important role. I think that we’ve certainly given him the change of scenery today, and I think we can give him a more important role. He can be an important guy here. He’s going to be a big part of any success that we have.”
Despite the positive news, Kane’s incompatibility during his time with the Jets is something all Sabres fans should be aware of for next year.
Below are four key factors that played a role in Kane’s escort out of Winnipeg:
- Head coach Claude Noel made a move to bench Evander during a game against the Boston Bruins on January 10th, 2012.
- Jets fans accused Kane of spending two weeks out of the lineup because of an off-ice concussion. He spent time out of the lineup from January 19th – February 7th. Fan’s searched through game highlights in order to point to the play that caused his injury. A majority of fans and media members could not locate a major contact moment which might have caused injury. Kane was then forced to go public and blame the injury on a scrum that occurred against the Islanders on December 20th. He claimed he played through this injury up until a physical matchup against (ironically) the Buffalo Sabres solidified the injury.
- Kane was then tendered a new six year deal for $31.5 million on September 16th, 2012. This deal followed Kane’s best statistical year, he netted 30 goals and posted 27 assists over 74 games. Loyal hockey followers deem 2012 as a frightening year, the threat of a full season lockout appeared to be imminent. The combination of Evander’s new deal, his failure to commit to overseas hockey during the lockout period, multiple social media mishaps, (including paper pushups & communication with Money Mayweather via Benjamin Wireless) and friction between himself and new coaching hire Paul Maurice all conspired to rub Jets fans the wrong way.
- Kane played through a shoulder injury all the way up until February this past season. His gameplay struggled due to a lack of line chemistry, bad shot luck, and an increase of defense league-wide. His lack of production and cooperation led to a headlining locker-room incident. Kane found his track suit flogged underneath a spray of hot shower water when entering the locker room after a game. This was a big piece of evidence to the Jets brass that his presence was no longer welcome by fans or players.
When scanning past statistics Evander appears to be a player that has fallen out of relevancy after a contract year. Kane was never able to put up numbers that reflected a player who had reached the 30 goal mark in 2011-2012. His 2013-2014 campaign was far off, he fell short of the 20 goal (19) mark and only put up 41 points in a full season. Tim Murray and other general managers were aware of his position on the trade block due to his status as a lineup reject. Murray likely competed with other bottom feeding teams that had hopes of securing a favorable spot in the McEichel sweepstakes.
A season in review proves that Kane’s injury and departure came with little regret from the Winnipeg front office. For Buffalo it’s a trade that shelved an athlete with a tremendous work ethic who will be hungry to get back on the ice and brought in an addition to help solidify the defense in getting D Zack Bogosian. The trade also lightened the overflowing prospect pool, swapping Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux for NHL players that can contribute immediately. Most onlookers forget that you can only sign a limited number of draft picks. Kane is a roster piece that plays through injury, shells out roster leading hits, and has a monstrous workout regimen. He is a man you want on the roster, his example is one that the young squad can feed from. Referring back to statistics only, Kane’s recent plateau does not bode well for his current contract status but Sabres fans should have high hopes that he will work hard for a future payout. On the opposite end Stafford and Myers were able to make contributions to a Winnipeg team that serves as inspiration to current basement dwelling teams. The Jets were able to complete a playoff push that impressed and satisfied long deprived fans.
Evander is a young guy that represents the upcoming generation. He has built a brand founded on cheeky comments, social media accounts promoting his high society status, and a lifestyle that would make anyone jealous. His unique attitude and gameplay is in my opinion very comparable to a refined Patrick Kaleta but with talent and scoring touch. Moving on, Zach Bogosian has a defensive prowess that will land him in an anchor role on the Buffalo blue line. Zach and Evander are top five picks that have an enhanced amount of league seniority compared to the two prospects dealt to Winnipeg. Joel Armia is among a talent pool which received high praise from Sabres scouts and Rochester American followers. Lemieux had a cold stance against Buffalo since being drafted, he never welcomed a chance to begin his career in this area. Both of the former Jets will play a key role in this upcoming 15 – 16 campaign which begins with a 7pm puck drop in Pegulaville Thursday, October 8.