FORWARD Evander Kane is refusing to be drawn into yet another public debate about whether he is healthy enough to play.
Kane, who's been recuperating the past couple weeks with what the club will only describe as a "lower body injury," skated with his teammates for the first time in almost two weeks Friday morning at the MTS Centre.
Asked after practice if he's healthy enough to play, Kane pointedly refused to answer. "We're not going to go down that road again," he said.
Kane got into a very public dispute earlier this season with head coach Claude Noel about whether he was a "healthy scratch" when he didn't play Nov. 6 in Chicago. At the time, Kane insisted he was healthy enough to play, while Noel maintained he wasn't.
With Kane unwilling on Friday to "go down that road again," the winger was asked if he "expects" to play this afternoon at home against the Dallas Stars.
"We'll see. I have to talk to Claude and we'll go from there. We'll have to make that decision later today," said Kane.
"It was nice to be back skating... I feel a lot better and a lot more able to do things out there."
Noel was noncommittal about Kane when he met with reporters after practice on Friday.
"Today was the first day for him to skate contact-wise and he got through it," Noel said. "I think he's feeling pretty good.
"I'm not sure if he's a player for tomorrow. I will have to check on that. Normally, we like to go a little longer with that. And nothing's changed -- you want to set a player up to succeed. I'm not sure if I feel comfortable with that right now."
Kane has missed five games since he was injured in a game Nov. 29 in Philadelphia.
Kane said he's had the same unspecified injury he has right now in the past, and in that instance he came back too quickly and had to subsequently miss four games when he reaggravated it.
Kane was asked how he thinks teammate and friend Chris Thorburn has played in his absence on the Jets' second line.
Never one to miss a chance to poke Thorburn, who gives Kane the same treatment in the Jets dressing room, Kane was blunt.
"He's been garbage," he laughed. "He's hit more posts than me probably this year... Hopefully he can get on the scoresheet soon."
Friday's practice at the MTS Centre was held in front of several thousand young fans who were there as part of a Jets promotion.
Captain Andrew Ladd did not practise on Friday. Noel said Ladd was given a "maintenance day."
The Jets have been 0-2-1 in games this season that had a 2 p.m. start time or earlier. Today's game starts at 2 p.m.
The Jets have scored three power-play goals in their last two games and have now scored 11 of their 14 power-play goals this season at MTS Centre. Conversely, the Dallas Stars have scored 10 of their 11 power-play goals this season on the road. Winnipeg's power play was ranked 28th on Friday, while the Stars' PP was No. 30.