Paul Maurice updates Kane situation
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This article was published 5/2/2015 (2702 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Evander Kane’s future with the Winnipeg Jets may now be in doubt because of an ongoing injury issue and a rift with at least one of his teammates.
Kane was not at Jets practice on Thursday as he was getting examined by team doctors about a lingering injury issue which may ultimately require surgery. Thursday afternoon he was officially placed on injured reserve retroactive to Feb. 2 and the team recalled forward Patrice Cormier from St. John’s.
But more details are emerging about what happened Tuesday in Vancouver when he was scratched from the lineup after what Paul Maurice called a ‘coach’s decision.’
Free Press columnist Gary Lawless reported Wednesday night that Kane broke a team dress-code rule by showing up to a morning meeting while wearing a track suit, but the decision to hold him out of the lineup now seems to involve more than a dress-code violation.
Following a workout at Rogers Arena, sources say Dustin Byfuglien threw Kane’s clothes into the cold tub in frustration and to send a message to his teammate. Kane left the rink and then did not travel on the team’s bus for the game against his hometown Canucks and, as a result, missed the pre-game meeting. Team officials then attempted to reach him before the opening face-off and when contact was made a half-hour prior to puck drop, Kane indicated he would not be playing and hung up the phone.
'There’s a standard that everybody needs to live up to. We’re professionals. We make a lot of money. That’s the code we live by. If you don’t like it then there’s other places you can go. This is the way we do things.' – Blake Wheeler
It was at that point that Maurice made the decision to keep Kane out of the lineup. Now, because Kane did not show up for work on Tuesday he is in breach of contract and GM Kevin Cheveldayoff is within his rights to suspend him. Undoubtedly he is also fielding calls from rival GMs about a possible trade.
Following practice on Thursday, Maurice would not provide any of the details behind his decision, saying only:
"I know that when I come out and say ‘coach’s decision’ I open all of us up to a tremendous amount of speculation. And I can live with that. I factor all of these things and make a decision and sometimes it’s difficult to decide whether it’s agreed with or not because you don’t know all the details. It’s really important as a team to understand the value of that as well. You deal with it as a group. I’ve got to make those decisions."
Byfuglien spoke to the media Thursday after practice, but before these latest details had become public. Asked how the latest affair swirling around Kane might affect the relationship he has with teammates, Byfuglien said:
"We’re just a tight group. It is what it is. It’s just among us… it’s things we’ve got to handle ourselves."
Byfuglien did say that team rules are to be followed, no matter how incidental they may seem
"I’m sure you have rules in your household," he said. "And if the kids don’t stick to it, you’ve got to discipline them. It is what it is."
Maurice insited the backdrop to the game – Kane would have played in his hometown in front of friends and family – did not affect his decision.
"The context shouldn’t change what you believe. Evander missed a game in Toronto (last April). I understood that it was a national (televised) game and I wasn’t probably going to get out of the building without answering for it. But you make your decisions."
Jets players did not throw Kane under the bus or outwardly criticize him following practice on Tuesday. But winger Blake Wheeler said team rules, no matter how small, need to be followed by everyone.
"There’s a standard that everybody needs to live up to," said Wheeler. "We’re professionals. We make a lot of money. That’s the code we live by. If you don’t like it then there’s other places you can go. This is the way we do things."
Maurice said he didn’t think the Kane scratch and the speculation that has followed it for two days has been a distraction for the Jets, who open an important three-game homestand Friday against the Chicago Blackhawks.
"Geez, the best game we’ve played in the last five has been Vancouver," said Maurice. "I thought we played hard and got back to looking the way our team is supposed to look. So, if it was a distraction the players handled it well."
Meanwhile, Kane’s absence meant that Dustin Byfuglien remained at forward at practice on Thursday, working on a line with Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault.
"Obviously it’s not the ideal spot I want to be in right now," said Byfuglien. "But we’re a team and they needed a guy to fill that spot. And I’m the lucky guy.
"It is what it is. I’ve got a job to do. I’ve got to come to the rink and go to work every day. What position I’m playing, sometimes I don’t know. But that’s my job, to play hockey, and as long as I’ve got a stall in the NHL I don’t really care."
Kane’s agent, Craig Oster of Newport Sports Management, said there should be a comment from their camp on Friday.