And now, it appears things in Winnipeg have hit the breaking point. The Jets have announced that forward Evander Kane will be out for the remainder of the season. He requires surgery on his left shoulder and will miss the next four to six months of action.
This hasn’t been a great week for Kane and the Jets, who’ve been sitting on perhaps one of the most passive aggressive relationships in hockey for some time now. This round of the saga got underway with Kane’s suspension after showing up to the rink in a track suit. That violation of the rules had Kane benched as a healthy scratch for the game against his hometown Vancouver Canucks.
But then word began to emerge about the injury and about other variables relating to the suspension, which deepened the matter.
Now, outlets are reporting that Kane was not on the team bus as it headed to Rogers Arena in Vancouver. He also missed a pre-game team meeting. These events came to pass after Kane arrived at a team meeting in the now infamous track suit, a move that peeved teammate Dustin Byfuglien to the point that he threw Kane’s clothes into the shower.
Following that, the message was loud and clear.
“We’re just a tight group,” Byfuglien said to reporters after the Kane benching was announced. “It is what it is. That’s just among us. Things we’ve just got to handle ourselves.”
Discussion about whether or not such actions are the right way to handle a “problem player” such as Kane can be left aside for the time being, but the fact remains that the relationship between the Jets and one of their best players is perhaps irredeemable at this point. The injury – and the fact that Kane had been playing through it – only adds to the toxicity.
In 37 games this season, Kane has 10 goals and a dozen assists. He’s been close to stellar on the penalty kill and has taken on whatever role the Jets have given him on the ice. But off the ice, he’s been either a misunderstood individual or an unqualified menace to a team (and a sport) steeped in tradition and “rules.”
For the Jets, they think they’ve played by those rules. Their “tight group” handled Evander Kane and tossed his clothes into the shower. And now, he’s out for four to six months.