Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kane committed to Jets

Top-scoring winger wants that to be crystal-clear

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Fitting, one supposes, that he blew into town along with the winter tempest that struck the city on Friday.

Evander Kane is back on the ice with the Winnipeg Jets, or at least he was in an informal skate Saturday in advance of the start of official NHL training camps.

Controversy, or at least debate, seems to follow the 21-year-old left-winger around.

No surprise there.

But for all his playfulness with reporters Saturday at the MTS Centre, the youngster from Vancouver who struck it rich with a new six-year, $31.5-million contract just minutes before the lockout began last September said one serious thing about business.

Something his team and his teammates and Jets fans aren't likely to forget.

Kane was asked, for all the twists and turns in his road since he arrived in Winnipeg, if he is now committed to the Jets.

"That's what my signature means," Kane said.

The contract is clearly pleasing and he said Saturday there's no second-guessing it post-lockout.

"I'm happy with it," he said. "That's why I signed it. I'm looking forward to getting back on the ice and playing hockey."

The deal, which comes with a starting salary of $3 million pro-rated for this shortened season, was a conscious choice, he said, "to take the security early or maybe try to wait and risk it a little bit. Under the circumstances, I thought it was a good idea to maybe sign before just because they wanted to limit second-term contracts."

Since Kane has been away after authoring a career-best 30-goal season for the Jets, he's been in the news.

Among the items was his tweeted picture from Las Vegas holding apparent stacks of cash as a prop phone in an attempt to reach boxer Floyd Mayweather. It sparked outrage from some, decrying Kane's insensitivity.

Some reported that Kane was apologetic after the incident, but they were wrong. He's nothing of the sort.

"Nothing really surprises me anymore," he said of the reaction to it. "I thought it was funny. I still think it is. I said this before, if that's going to ruin your day, you might need to go to the doctor and check yourself out. It was fun, it was a good trip in Vegas and I'm happy about that picture, that I was able to take it."

Jets captain Andrew Ladd used a doctored version of the photo -- coach Claude Noel's head was superimposed onto Kane's shoulders -- for a Twitter barb at his teammate for not being in Winnipeg earlier this week, but Kane fended it off with amusement Saturday.

"Laddy actually cheated," Kane smiled. "I guess he was doing some Internet surfing and stumbled upon it. It took him a long time to come up with that good of a joke.

"Maybe next time he'll be a little snappier."

Kane was asked if he minded being a lightning rod for criticism.

"I don't know," he said. "You guys will have to figure that out for yourselves.

"It comes with the job description. I'm pretty comfortable with who I am and the people around me are as well. I don't really have to defend myself and fix that."

Kane arrived with designs cut into the short hair on the back of his head -- TMT (The Money Team, an apparel brand founded by Mayweather) and EK9.

He said the TMT logo was for "Thorburn-Mother-Thorburn," chuckling, of course.

The eight-minute back-and-forth with reporters included a little hockey talk, including reporting that he had been skating on his own, and with his father, in Vancouver after his KHL adventure in Minsk flamed out after 12 games.

The schedule ahead, Kane said, will not be that burdensome.

"I think for the most part our travel is not too, too bad" he said. "Our division is Carolina and Washington and Florida and Tampa and they're all pretty close when we get on the road."

As for projections about himself and the team, Kane said he's got higher goals and doesn't care how pundits rank the Jets.

"I don't really pay attention to where our team is ranked. I know some people don't think we're that good a team but it's up to us to prove them wrong," he said.

A goal for the season all the way around.

tim.campbell@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2013 B3

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