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Healthy scratch could be turning point in Kane saga

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 4/2/2015 (598 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

After breaking a team rule, Evander Kane was a healthy scratch on Tuesday and that may be the end of this little saga. Or we may soon see signs of a much larger rift.

Kane’s transgression on Tuesday, as it turns out, was fairly was minor. He broke dress code, arriving at the rink for a midday team meeting in sweats, instead of a suit. By gametime, Kane wasn’t a player.

Evander Kane was a healthy scratch on Tuesday night as the Jets fell 3-2 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.

KEN GIGLIOTTI / FREE PRESS FILES

Evander Kane was a healthy scratch on Tuesday night as the Jets fell 3-2 in overtime to the Vancouver Canucks.

Jets coach Paul Maurice scratched Kane from the lineup and after the game called it a coach’s decision. This is the second time Maurice has made Kane a healthy scratch for disciplinary reasons. The coach has rules and he expects his players to follow them and there are few exceptions. The margin of error for a repeat offender such as Kane is thin. So he got benched.

How Kane takes this treatment will be the subtext of the next chapter. If he accepts he made a mistake and is willing to move forward, we’ll see him back in the lineup as early as Friday night. If he’s miffed, and decides he’d like to swat back at the organization, Kane does have a card to play. He can elect to shut it down and have surgery on an undisclosed injury.

Kane has been playing with this injury for much of this season and could force the decision to have it repaired.

If Kane or the Jets announce in the coming days he’s going under the knife, it will be evident the player and team are at odds. Surgery has been an option Kane has elected to forego to this point. He’s played with pain and been effective. Up until now, the expectation was he would conclude the season and have this ailment taken care of in the off-season.

But Kane is well within his rights to say he wants things fixed and he wants them fixed now. If that’s the news which breaks in the coming days, we’ll know Kane has lost his appetite to do all he can for king and country.

The next question will be: Is this the end of the road for Kane and the Jets?

In December of 2012, after one of Kane’s early kerfuffles, I predicted he wouldn’t finish out his six-year contract with the Jets. It was a statement of opinion in a column written during a protracted player stoppage. The opinion was based on the notion Kane wasn’t a good fit for Winnipeg.

While that opinion hasn’t changed, the Jets have and the only fit which now matters is that between Kane and head coach Maurice. And that fit, up until this latest friction, appeared to be good.

Maurice likes Kane as a player. And Maurice, unlike the Jets organization of 2012, isn’t inexperienced in dealing with the likes of Kane.

"I’ve just been doing this long enough that most of these aren’t that difficult to do," said Maurice, when asked if it was hard to take this player out of the lineup for Tuesday’s game which ended as a 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks.

Kane has 10 goals and 22 points in 37 games and is producing a little more than half a point per game which is almost bang on for his career average of .61 points a game over 361 career games.

A physical player blessed with speed, Kane has developed into a solid third line player and Maurice has been happy to praise him at several junctures this season. Kane is not a gifted scorer. He can go on streaks but he’s not a consistent goal producer. He has developed into an effective penalty killer and Maurice says his defensive game is sound. There’s more to like about Kane than not.

The one issue the Jets may have with Kane is his pay grade. He’s earning $6,000,000 with a cap hit of $5,250,000 which are both a little steep for a third line player on a small market team that doesn’t spend to the cap. It sets the bar fairly high for Cheveldayoff when dealing with players with similar or higher production rates.

Cheveldayoff won’t want to trade Kane because of a dress-code violation. And he won’t want to be forced into a trade at a time such as now when the return can’t be maximized. Maurice won’t be begging Cheveldayoff to trade the player, as he’s a coach comfortable with handling his own problems.

It’s long been rumoured Kane wants out of Winnipeg. I don’t know that be true or false. But we just might get that answer once and for all.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless

History

Updated on Wednesday, February 4, 2015 at 8:56 PM CST: Column updated with new information

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