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Kane, Noel on same page

Both know winger must play better to make Jets better

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Winnipeg coach Claude Noel and Jets leading scorer Evander Kane are on the same page about one thing at least.

Noel wants Kane to play better and Kane said Thursday he wants to play better.

Beyond that, it's been melodrama to the nines since Tuesday's episode in Boston where Noel plunked Kane on the bench for a large part of the first period, unhappy with the way the power forward started the game against the Bruins.


After the 5-3 defeat in which the Jets blew three leads, Noel addressed the assembled reporters in the usual fashion.

The last question he was asked that night was about Kane, and the coach popped off about the forward's unsatisfactory play at the start of the evening.

With no access to the team on Wednesday's travel-home day, the issue ripened into Thursday, when the coach appeared to be trying to diffuse the matter, only to inflame it further.

"Evander Kane is not a subject for me," Noel said, asked about it on Thursday morning. "It's a subject for you guys. Evander Kane missed a couple of shifts in the first and played 18 minutes. He's a good player. He's going to continue to be a good player. I like him today like I like him every other day. To me, it's a non-issue."

But calling out a player in public earned more than one question in the daily briefing, and that's when Noel seemed to blame reporters for the story.

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"It's pretty easy to decide how you do it (call out a player) publicly," Noel said. "You don't do it again. That's what you do. You have to remember and I have to remember that you get emotions from the game. You guys are very good at provoking emotions.

"That's what you do. And when you get caught, you pay the price. That's something I'll be ready for next time."

Noel also said he didn't "regret" saying what he said on Tuesday. "It's just the emotions of things."

And then he threatened to become "a generic coach," in the future, saying, surprisingly, that he doesn't do what he's done twice in two weeks, and that's call out a player.

"I don't deal with dealing with players in the media," Noel said. "That's not my avenue. I would sooner deal with the players face to face, which is where I do it. The media isn't a forum for me to deal with players. That's just not a very good style. That's not a motivating place for me."

It would be surprising if Noel didn't address the issue with Kane during Tuesday's game, but the 20-year-old winger said Thursday the coach hasn't spoken to him since he made his post-game comments.

Still, Kane said, "I think the message was pretty clear."

Kane played at least his average of 17-plus minutes on Thursday and had three shots on goal, but now he's been stuck on 18 goals for six games.

Kane was very reserved as he answered questions Thursday.

"That definitely wasn't may best performance," he said of Tuesday. "That's what (Noel) thought. It's something I have to deal with it. I have to be better.

"It's something you can't take personally or take wholeheartedly. You just have to move on and show him you'll be ready to start the next game."

Kane thought he played better once he got back into the game. He certainly played enough after the first period, exceeding his per-game average icetime this season when he reached 18 minutes for the night.

"I had to," Kane said. "I don't like sitting on the bench. I don't like not playing or being able to contribute.

"That's the coach's job to do what he thinks is best for the team. I want to be able to contribute and help the team out. Like I said, I need to be better and I know I can be better and I will be better."

Jets captain Andrew Ladd said Thursday he didn't find the matter that unusual and said generally, it's what follows that matters most.

"Hopefully we respond the right way," Ladd said. "I think he's just trying to push buttons and get guys going. He obviously knows the potential that's in this room and what's needed on nightly basis. I guess that's one of his tools that he can use to get guys going."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 13, 2012 C3

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