Evander Kane turned up late to a team function last weekend, a gaffe that bought the Jets winger a one-way pass to the press box Saturday night in Toronto.
After a couple of days of buzz about what Kane did or didn't do to earn a benching from head coach Paul Maurice, the Free Press confirmed the 22-year-old had rolled in late to a team function prior to Saturday's game. That triggered Maurice to scratch Kane for the tilt against the Leafs, though both coach and player declined to give specifics on Saturday.
"Obviously, I was disappointed, but that was his decision, and that was it," Kane said, in a cool exchange with media after Monday morning's skate. He said Maurice informed him before the morning skate on Saturday he wouldn't play against the Leafs, but that he took "nothing specific" away from Maurice's message.
When asked if there was a chance he'd ask for a trade in the summer, Kane demurred. "I'm here to answer hockey questions, in terms of the game tonight," he said. "That's my focus."
After the skate Monday, Maurice thumped his lectern when he heard about Kane's statements about focusing on the game. "Sweet, message delivered," the coach said. "That's all he has to do today. That's his job tonight."
Maurice promptly put Kane in the starting lineup against the Wild on Monday night, reinforcing his message the situation had been handled.
After the morning skate, Maurice spent several minutes expounding on the importance of abiding by team policies and his opinions about discussing them in the media.
"I understand that's your job, that you have to find out the 'why,' " Maurice said to the gathered reporters. "And if I don't tell you, you're going to work really hard at finding it out from somewhere else.
"And I got no problem with that either, but my responsibility is to be open and honest with you where I think I need to. After that, I have no responsibility in (the media room), but a tremendous one in (the dressing room): To set policy and standards for our on- and off-ice game, and set fairly clear lines for players to understand the ramifications of that. And we still got a lot of work to do in those areas."
Maurice noted he has scratched other players due to rule violations, but those cases didn't attract the same notice as Kane's.
Kane isn't the only young star in Winnipeg to have been scratched for being late -- back in December 2011 the visiting Boston Bruins famously sat Tyler Seguin in the MTS Centre press box after Seguin overslept and arrived late to a team breakfast.