Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SPORTS
From the looks of it, Evander Kane is going to hit the trade market for the second time in less than two years. Not many were surprised to see him head from Winnipeg to Buffalo during the 2014/15 season, and many came to his defence. Most of his issues, after all, had been with the team, and a civil suit placed in his direction for an incident in Vancouver was brushed off when Kane retorted that his thrown street punches were in self-defence.
Fast forward, and we’re back to where we started, except worse. This time, the Buffalo Sabres want off of this wild ride, and it’s due to a string of off-ice incidents. You don’t need me to re-paint the picture for you here; Canucks Army managing editor JD Burke did an excellent job detailing the list of accusations placed upon Kane, and why he has reservations about bringing in a player with this much and this type of smoke surrounding their personal life.
Vancouver Province writer Ben Kuzma, on the other hand, feels differently. He thinks the Canucks should go after the local youngster. Which, of course, is his opinion, which he’s welcome to have. But the delivery is almost as problematic as the player he’s defending.
Two moments in this piece, towards the beginning, are extreme lowlights:
The optics of another off-ice altercation by the wayward Evander Kane were ugly, but the timing may not have been better for the Vancouver Canucks, who desperately need to acquire a second-line left-winger.
Way to start off with a bang, I guess. Nobody is denying that if the “we can win now, we swear” dream is going to continue to be chased, more help on the wings wouldn’t help. But there are things you don’t say (nor should you believe them in your heart, really), and claiming that a player having a criminal assault accusation placed upon them is exactly what your sports team needs to get better is one of those things.
When teams are looking for undervalued players, they’re typically looking for players who are played in miscast roles or spent the year injured, not ones who spend as much time in the back of a police car as they do on the bench. At least, I would hope so. While everybody is trying to win a championship and there are millions of dollars changing hands here, this is ultimately an entertainment product based around a sport people play for fun; it’s effectively meaningless compared to what goes on in the real world.
The “right time” for a repeatedly accused offender to try to choke out a woman because he was mad at somebody else is literally never. I don’t care if it guarantees the Canucks a Stanley Cup. Never.
Whether Kane has a behavioural problem to the extent that the NHL could evoke disciplinary action, or demand counselling, you have to wonder how much of all this is a serious character flaw? Or, how much is it a result of being a talented, well-paid, fun-loving, stubborn and selfish athlete, with a skewed sense of professionalism?
Are you kidding me? “A result of being a talented, well-paid, fun-loving, stubborn and selfish athlete.” That’s a horrible statement that paints the aggressor as a victim of his own success.
Here’s a reality check: Evander Kane has been known to be an elite hockey player destined for the NHL since he was a young boy. He’s had all sorts of coaches, tutors, mentors, and role model figures around him, preparing him for the moment, like most star players. He’s chosen to ignore it and, for reasons none of us particularly know, act in public like he’s allowed to do whatever he wants.
“Well-paid” shouldn’t buy him get out of jail free cards. “Talented” only matters on the ice. “Fun-loving” sounds great, until you wonder how much fun all of his accusers were having if what they’ve all repeatedly been saying holds true. There’s no excuse for selfish, and the portrayal of a “boys will be boys” stubbornness is toxic.
I’m a little under four months younger than Evander Kane and am not rich and famous. If I did any of the things he was accused of, I’d have absolutely no career prospects moving forward, and trouble finding even an ‘everyday’ job. You know what, though? That would be fair because being violent and intentionally ignorant of boundaries is something that most of us are taught as young children. Kane has been an adult for quite some time now and had the resources to fast-track his mindset into adulthood earlier than most. He hasn’t used them. That’s on him.
The only thing more ridiculous is the ‘skewed sense of professionalism’ bit that ends the sentence. This transcends professionalism. Skewed sense of professionalism applied in back in Winnipeg, and then, I didn’t care too much about; money phones and track suits are a bit childish, but also a little funny and they only make him look dumb. “Don’t assault people” isn’t professionalism; it’s basic human ethics that go beyond the workplace.
The rest of Kuzma’s piece goes on to outline the hockey merits of making a trade, and that’s all well and good. When Kane was being chased out of town, my perspective was that most of his problems were stemmed in mild immaturity and in not getting along with specific people, and perhaps overblown. Heck, I was even in the boat that felt that the perception of him outside of team operations seemed to have a tinge of racism attached to it.
But now? This isn’t about how Kane interacts with his hockey team. It’s about how he interacts with society, and after a certain amount of incidents, it’s hard to deny that this looks really, really, bad. Would I still take him as a hockey player? Yeah, probably. Would I still take on his personality? If I had an iron-clad plan not just to stay out of trouble, but rehabilitate his mindsets, with a way to make sure that he had consequence with the team or with the law if he messes up again? I’d consider it.
But let’s be real with ourselves. This isn’t “the right time” for an accused assault to happen. This isn’t boys will be boys, and this isn’t somebody who has been led astray by fame. If you want Evander Kane on the team, that’s cool, but cut the crap surrounding it. Acknowledge that this is a problemed man who needs to take blame for his wrong-doings and shouldn’t be seen as anybody’s blessing until he makes himself until he rehabilitates himself.
Celebrating him and making excuses for him, at this point, is nothing short of embarrassing to the writer, the publication, and the reader.