Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Kane's days are numbered in 'Peg

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Six years is a long time. At this rate, Evander Kane won't live out the term of his contract as a member of the Winnipeg Jets.

Another day and another firestorm for Kane. It happens too often and if changes aren't made by the player, the team will make its own changes and deal him.

Another silly tweet with no forethought to the effect it would have. No compassion for people wedged into difficult situations.

The message wasn't great but after the original shock wore off, it wasn't that bad. No, it was the reaction more than the message, that clearly spells out why Evander Kane can't and won't last in Winnipeg.

Really, what's the harm in Kane's early-morning tweet on Wednesday containing a picture of himself holding stacks of cash on a Las Vegas hotel balcony? None, except for the virulent reaction it set off from both media and fans.

There was no crime, no one was hurt and in many ways, the incident can easily be sloughed off as a 21-year-old blowing off steam.

We don't live in a vacuum, however, and the fact Kane is a member of a union involved in a protracted labour stoppage that has cost people in and around the NHL hundreds of millions of dollars adds negative context.

It's almost Christmas and lots of NHL staffers have been laid off and many more workers have lost wages due to the lockout.

Kane isn't responsible for the lockout but a picture of a young millionaire fooling around with thousands of dollars at a high-end Vegas hotel reflects a certain lack of sensitivity.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Kane is still capable of gambling and enjoying all that Vegas has to offer. Others affected by the lockout cannot.

Christmas without a job or lost wages can be tough on people. Maybe it's a time of year when a high-profile athlete should look to be sending a more reflective message and not just a send-up to his lifestyle of largesse.

People care what Kane is up to and they pay big money to watch him play. They have a vested interest in how he lives his life. Kane doesn't understand that or chooses not to recognize it. As a result, trouble follows him.

It's all silly stuff. One day someone is trying to push a tweets for cash deal on his behalf and the next he's getting bashed for allegedly not paying restaurant bills. Mostly harmless, but somewhat odorous all the same.

None of Kane's misadventures mean much standing alone, but stacked together like so many dollar bills, they equate to a reputation. One from which the Jets will eventually want to run.

They also point to a trend. Kane isn't very coachable. On or off the ice. He's a talent. But he's also a problem -- there's no disputing that.

Teammates have tried to reach him on certain subjects. He doesn't listen. If he wants to bring his girlfriend along on the road, he does so. Veterans have tried to hammer home that road games are business trips. Focus should be on the work. Kane does what he wants when he wants. He's a teammate but not yet a good one.

His reaction on Wednesday to the hubbub was to shrug it off as a joke that others didn't understand. Maybe. But Kane can't grasp that public perception matters. Or he just doesn't care.

Either way, it adds up to a distraction the Jets will eventually determine is tiresome. It's Kane's life and he's free to do with it as he wishes.

By now, Kane should have the reflex that urges him to stop and consider the reaction before he makes his move.

But he doesn't and it will be some time before he does. If he ever does. It's just not the way he's built. The stubborn streak is just as wide as the ego streak.

None of this makes him a bad person. But it makes him a bad fit for Winnipeg and the Jets organization.

Kane signed a six-year, $31.5-million contract this summer with the Jets. He won't finish it in Winnipeg.

Kane will someday be traded. He hasn't played one game under his new ticket but the writing is on the wall.

GM Kevin Cheveldayoff got term and a palatable cap hit just north of $5 million when he signed Kane. He's an asset now and a portable one. Other teams will want him.

The Jets won't be ready to give up on Kane just yet. But he's making it difficult to base the franchise's foundation on him.

Kane's act will eventually change or it will force a trade.

Bet on the trade.

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @garylawless

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2012 D3

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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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