During the intermission of last night’s Capitals-Senators game, hockey insider Elliotte Friedman reported that the Caps were apparently kicking the tires on Evander Kane:
From a purely on-ice standpoint, you could make the argument that, sure, Kane would be a strong addition to any team with Cup hopes. He’s been around a 25-30 goal scorer in each of his last four seasons, and has averaged .75 points per game over that span. That’s pretty good, and could be tempting - especially for a team like the Caps, who have admittedly struggled to produce offense of late and continue to be without a couple of their top wingers.
So that’s the mandatory “Evander Kane can play hockey well” spiel. Because he can. That much is not up for debate.
But now let’s talk about what really matters when talking about Evander Kane: the off-ice stuff. And that discussion would not be limited to just a small thing here or there. The baggage that accompanies Kane is hefty - and not all of it is in the past. Just in the last six months, Kane was investigated for potentially having bet on his own games and accused of domestic abuse and sexual assault by his ex-wife (although the NHL investigated both and found no evidence). He then was suspended 21 games for using a fake vaccination card to travel with the Sharks to Vancouver, in violation of league COVID protocol, and eventually had his contract terminated by San Jose.
That COVID-related suspension is the sixth time he has been suspended in his career - and of those six, it’s the second time he’s sat out for off-ice behavior (with a third suspension of three games for physical abuse of an official).
Just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Kane, whose career has been peppered by various incidents ranging from mild to pretty awful. Here’s a list of just some of them:
- In 2013, then a member of the Winnipeg Jets, he posted a homophobic tweet (later deleted)
- The following year he was accused of assaulting a man in Vancouver
- That same year he was a healthy scratch under new coach Paul Maurice, who said after the game that if Kane wanted back in the lineup all he needed to do was “probably just come to the rink”. Hmm.
- A few months later he was a healthy scratch again for an incident with his teammates. That would be one of his last games in Winnipeg, as he was shipped out a week later to the Buffalo Sabres.
- In 2016, Kane left town to hang out at the NBA All-Star Game, missed practice as a result and was suspended by the team for breaking a team rule.
- That summer, a Buffalo woman sued Kane for injuring her in actions that were described as “unwanted, unconsented to, violent and offensive in nature physical battery.”
- Around the same time, he also faced allegations of having physically abused two women at a downtown Buffalo bar.
- In 2018, now a member of the San Jose Sharks, Kane was sued by a woman who claimed he promised to pay her $3 million to have a third-straight abortion.
- At the end of last season, several key players mentioned Kane in their exit interviews, noting that if he would be a part of the team going forward, they did not want to be. Here’s more from the Athletic:
“But the Sharks’ displeasure with Kane stemmed from a general disrespect for team rules, including routinely being late for games and practices, not adhering to the dress code and having poor practice habits. At one point late in the season, according to a source, Kane nearly came to blows with assistant coach Rocky Thompson in a meeting after arguing where he was supposed to be positioned on the power play.”
The Capitals’ brass has often talked about the importance of having “character” guys in the dressing room, and it’s pretty clear that this has been a priority in building the current roster. Bringing in someone like Kane, who could not only disrupt the team’s chemistry but cause real issues in the locker room, is a bad idea - regardless of how many goals he can score.
Beyond that, and far more importantly, is the fact that this is an organization that has frequently cited their desire to grow the game among women, and took a huge step in that direction earlier this season when they launched their ALL CAPS ALL HER initiative.
A move like this would completely undercut all of the good work they’ve done to this point. There’s a pattern of behavior for Kane when it comes to women, even if you disregard his ex-wife’s allegations, which may or may not be true. Signing someone like him just tells women and girls in this area something that we repeatedly hear from the sport that we love: that, once again, we’re simply not as important as someone who can put a little rubber disk in a net.
The bottom line is that Kane’s past and present are both littered with red flags and warning signs that this is not a player you should want as part of your team. The off-ice issues, in every stop he’s made over the course of his career, should be more than enough to turn away serious inquiries regardless of whatever on-ice benefit they think he provides - and frankly the fact that Brian MacLellan and his team are even remotely considering Kane given all of this is extremely disappointing.
When it comes to Evander Kane, the Capitals should run away, fast, and not look back.