Evander Kane spent a good chunk of Monday night scribbling his signature onto jerseys, Winnipeg Jets gear and his likeness that adorns the cover of the new EA Sports NHL13 video game.
But, for those of you wondering, he did NOT put his name on a new contract with the Jets Monday night.
And just for the record, it should also be pointed out that Jets' GM Kevin Cheveldayoff -- Kane offer in hand -- was not among the crowd snaking its way around the building at the EB Games location on Regent Avenue West for the late-night launch of the new game.
Asked to comment on where negotiations stand -- Kane is a restricted free agent coming off a season in which he led the Jets with a career-high 30 goals -- the 21-year-old winger was predictably tight-lipped.
"I'm going to keep everything in house -- I'm here for the NHL 13 launch," began Kane, decked out in a brand new Robert Griffin III Washington Redskins T-shirt.
Earlier this summer the Free Press reported Kane had been offered a six-year deal worth an estimated $29 million from the Jets. Recently, the Edmonton Oilers signed two of their young stars, Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle, to new contracts -- Hall a seven-year deal worth $42 million and Eberle a six-year deal for $36 million. As well, the Carolina Hurricanes last month signed Jeff Skinner, who is 20, to a six-year contract extension worth more than $34 million.
The fact Kane has not yet signed this late in the off-season has prompted all sorts of rumours he wanted out of Winnipeg and that the Jets were apparently sifting through offers from any number of teams, including, among others, the Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks and Montreal Canadiens.
Cheveldayoff shot down those rumours in June; Kane's agent followed with the same response last month.
"All that speculation kinda followed me throughout the season and that's exactly what it was," said Kane. "I'm not going to talk about anything in the future, or any contract-type stuff -- that's between my agent and Winnipeg."
Asked if the fact his likeness on the cover of the new game featuring him in a Jets jersey could offer some comfort to fans that a deal was imminent, Kane said:
"Well, it means I'm on the cover and part of the launch. I really don't know what you want me to say. That's up to my agent and the Jets to sort something out. We'll see what happens from here on out."
Kane's agent, Craig Oster of Newport Sports Management, did not respond to requests for an interview on Monday, but it is believed he and the Jets have had ongoing chats throughout the summer.
Cheveldayoff is attending AHL meetings and was not available for comment.
Kane is one of a handful of young NHL stars, all restricted free agents and including Montreal's P.K. Subban, Buffalo's Tyler Ennis and Michael Del Zotto of the New York Rangers, who have yet to sign with the expiration of the collective bargaining agreement coming Sept. 15.
If they don't wish to get locked into long-term deals before the 15th, there is also the possibility they could opt for shorter-term contracts. There's also the chance teams could pull back their offers until details on a new CBA are finalized.
Watching the CBA discussions unfold all summer while his own contract talks have been ongoing hasn't been easy, Kane admitted.
"It's been a little nerve-wracking," he said. "It's definitely disappointing not to have something set in stone right now. Nobody wants a lockout and we're just looking for a fair deal as players."
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