Ending the talk of Evander Kane being unhappy shouldn't present much of a dilemma. Get him the puck in scoring positions and watch the correlation between growing statistics and the readiness of his smile.

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This article was published 19/9/2014 (2402 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Opinion

Ending the talk of Evander Kane being unhappy shouldn't present much of a dilemma. Get him the puck in scoring positions and watch the correlation between growing statistics and the readiness of his smile.

Thirty goals? Rakish grin. Forty goals? Wow, look at those chompers. Fifty goals? Hey everyone, Evander just overpaid for a house in Tuxedo.

Kane is no different than any other goal scorer and his path to happiness is not that difficult to chart. Paul Maurice has figured it out on Day 1 of his first training camp as head coach of the Winnipeg Jets.

Maurice had Kane working on a line with centre Mark Scheifele and right-winger Blake Wheeler Friday, which could turn out to be a great combo. The 6-3 Scheifele is better suited as a No. 1 centre in the rugged Western Conference than the 5-11 Bryan Little and Wheeler is the Jets' best player.

Put the three together, with their size and speed, and they match up better against Western competition.

Maurice says leaders are the players that get the most minutes. Putting Kane up front with this group removes a large impediment to his success but also puts pressure on him to produce.

Minutes? Check. Creative and effective linemates? Check. Production? That's up to you now, buddy.

Kane's happiness or unhappiness is a much- talked-about topic in Winnipeg.

Although the player has publicly never said anything negative about the city, the rumours persist he's not down with Polo Park and Sals.

Whatever. Why should we expect beautiful, rich people to consider Winnipeg more appealing than, say, L.A. or New York? And frankly, who cares? Kane's actions, his commitment to play hockey and his quiet work behind the scenes with children's charities say much more about his devotion to this community.

Kane is paid to play hockey. No one can doubt his commitment to that endeavour. He puts it all out there and it's plain to see.

Kane spends the working portion of his life in Winnipeg. When he's here, he visits hospitals and donates time and money to helping others less fortunate than he. What else do we want from him? A signed affidavit he likes it here? Enough already.

Early on, Kane's act caught some of us off guard and rubbed the wrong way at times.

Over time, it's become apparent that Kane is comfortable in the spotlight and not afraid to stir the pot with his well-followed Twitter and Instagram accounts.

The kid is cheeky. Give me his looks, youth, talent and money and the resulting sideshow would make Evander look like a wallflower.

Some of us, this writer included, need to offer up a bit of a mea culpa.

Kane is no villain, even if he sometimes likes to play one. And if you think he doesn't know what he's up to and isn't aware of the reaction he's about to produce, you haven't been paying close attention. Kane is smart and calculating.

None of this matters to Maurice, who this week said he doesn't care "where a player drinks his coffee or how he takes it." He wants players who produce.

Very few on Winnipeg's roster have the ability to produce like Kane. Maurice has now put Kane in the best possible position do just that.

Everybody happy?

 

gary.lawless@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @garylawless