Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kane silencing doubters, on road to superstardom

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Evander Kane wants to be a superstar and it's beginning to look like nothing will stand in his way.

The Jets can go places with Kane. Just how far he wants to take them will be part of the evolving story of Evander Kane and his little team on the Prairie.

This is not yet Kane's team, but it very well may be soon. And if given that mantle, can he take another step and drag the Jets toward a championship? It's early in Kane's development as a person, but one thing we already know is he is driven. He's going to have numbers, one can almost guarantee it. Will those numbers be just about personal points or will they be about team success?

The answer to that question will determine so much about the Winnipeg Jets as an organization.

Steve Yzerman traded scoring titles for Stanley Cups midway through his career, so the source of Kane's motivation at this juncture isn't so important.

Being a superstar isn't a bad thing and it doesn't preclude being a champion. Kane can have it all if he so chooses.

Snipers such as Kane almost always have a selfish streak. It's part of the DNA that makes them effective. Kane leads the Jets in shots taken with 68 and has a shooting percentage of 10.3. Shoot first, should and has to be, Kane's reflex.

He is already a valuable asset and contributor to the Jets with seven goals and 15 points in 18 games. The last week has been among his best as a pro and he's scored, fought, hit and provided a consistent presence other teams must take note of. The Jets have been all the better as a result of Kane's high-end contributions.

Kane isn't the sidebar anymore when the Jets arrive in a town. He's the headliner.

Sunday's win over the New Jersey Devils saw Kane extend his NHL-leading consecutive-games points streak to seven with the winning goal in the third period.

Asked after the game if he enjoys physical play, Kane gave us a look into his view on banging.

"Who wouldn't? Well, I guess some guys don't like it. But it's one of the reasons why I play hockey," he said.

The Jets are enjoying their best road trip since moving to Winnipeg with three wins in four games and Kane has gotten better with each outing.

Coach Claude Noel gave Kane a team-high 25 minutes and 21 seconds of ice against the Devils, using him in all situations. He was Winnipeg's best player, most dangerous player and most effective player.

Kane was everything the Jets could ask for on Sunday. His performance opened a window to what a future with him riding roughshod on the NHL could look like for the Jets. Great view.

Kane got the cash this summer, signing a six-year $31.5 million contract, and while some wondered about the price the Jets paid he's given them equal value or better, playing his best hockey as a pro.

In a word, Kane has been dominant. Physically and statistically, Kane has hit his stride and has transformed from boy to man before the eyes of Jets fans. His game is predicated on speed and a burgeoning confidence on the ice has made his dashes up the ice more productive.

There had been previous flashes. Last season's 30 goals was a major indicator in Kane's development but there is now a heightened level of dominance and consistency in his game.

Kane has at times had an uncomfortable relationship with Winnipeg, recently stating he believes some of the criticsm lobbed his way is racially motivated.

This space has been both complimentary and critical of the man. This summer I stated Kane wouldn't last in Winnipeg and his off-ice act would one day force the Jets to trade him.

Actions, of course, speak louder than words. And right now Kane is making my words seem very small.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Evander's value

 

 

Kane signed a big-money ticket last summer and he's right on pace with the rest of his class in terms of cap hit. Kane, however, is a bargain when his actual salary for this season is factored in.

 

PlayerAgeGA2013 salaryTermValueCap hit

 

Evander Kane2178$3M6 yrs$31.5M$5.25M

Max Pacioretty2449$4M6 yrs$27M$4.5M

John Tavares221312$4M6 yrs$33M$5.5.M

Jamie Benn2367$4.5M6 yrs$26.25M$5.25M

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 26, 2013 D1

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About Gary Lawless

Gary Lawless is the Free Press sports columnist and co-host of the Hustler and Lawless show on TSN 1290 Winnipeg and www.winnipegfreepress.com
Lawless began covering sports as a rookie reporter at The Chronicle-Journal in Thunder Bay after graduating from journalism school at Durham College in Ontario.
After a Grey Cup winning stint with the Toronto Argonauts in the communications department, Lawless returned to Thunder Bay as sports editor.
In 1999 he joined the Free Press and after working on the night sports desk moved back into the field where he covered pro hockey, baseball and football beats prior to being named columnist.

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