Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Twitter games doing Kane no favours

First the trade rumour, now $500 promo offers

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PHILADELPHIA -- Evander Kane has rock-solid hockey representation in Newport Sports Management, but his relationship with a so-called business manager is getting him into a little trouble these days.

On Wednesday, Jeffrey Uppal stoked trade rumours involving Kane with his Twitter account, and now the Free Press has learned he's been representing the player with Winnipeg businesses.

Uppal is in no way associated with Newport but is CEO of UKD Inc., a company that lists Kane as vice-president.

Whether Kane is aware of Uppal's efforts is unclear, but a number of Winnipeg restaurants have been approached requesting a fee of $500 for positive promotional tweets from Kane's Twitter account.

Kane is certainly free to make whatever efforts he wishes in order to make a living. Endorsements are part of the modernday athlete's life and there's no negative judgment being made about Kane trying to earn a buck.

But this small-time stuff smacks of Turtle trying to get over due to Vince's fame on HBO's Entourage. Winnipeg certainly isn't Hollywood, and rolling like a movie star on the Prairies can lead to trouble.

Such as the firestorm Kane was forced to deal with on Thursday following the Jets' morning skate in Philadelphia.

The player stepped off the ice and immediately was hit with questions regarding a demand for a trade.

"No, I have not (asked for a trade). I guess people on social media come up with rumours," said Kane, referring to the Twitter and blog talk that had him asking for a move. Kane couldn't shed any light on Uppal's Twitter exchange with a member of the media stating he could shed light on the topic of a trade request.

"I can't speak for anybody but myself. The story started on some blog. I haven't even read it. I don't know what to think. I haven't asked for a trade and I'm happy where I am and I expect to be here for a long time," said Kane, who scored his second goal of the season Thursday night.

Kane also had to defend his relationship with head coach Claude Noel.

"I have the same relationship with Claude as the rest of the guys in the room do. I've been getting better, and the last two games have been much better," Kane said. "Rumours are rumours, and unless you hear it from the horse's mouth, it's not true."

Uppal did not respond to phone and email messages left by the Free Press.

Noel had little to say on the subject as well.

"The first I heard of it was this morning. As far as I'm concerned, I have a good relationship with Evander, so I don't know where it's coming from," Noel said. "If he or I have any issues, we deal with them head-on here. There haven't been any. He's been real good."

Kane has just started to look good on a line with Alexander Burmistrov and Nik Antropov. He can skate, he's powerful and fearless. He exudes the confidence needed to score goals in the NHL. He's a star in the making.

But to date he's not above reproach. So the after-parties bearing his name and entourage antics feel a little premature.

Vince had to put Johnny Drama and Turtle back in the cage every once in a while, and maybe Kane needs to do the same.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 28, 2011 C1

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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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