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Evander KANE is hurting -- perhaps both physically and mentally -- and, as a result, his days with the Winnipeg Jets have never been more in doubt.
The Jets officially placed Kane on the injured-reserve list Thursday afternoon, retroactive to Feb. 2, punctuating the latest chapter in his often-tumultuous relationship with the organization.
And what has unfolded in the last few days undoubtedly makes what happens next an even more riveting page-turner.
Just to recap, Kane was scratched prior to Tuesday's loss in Vancouver, his hometown, after what Jets boss Paul Maurice called a "coach's decision." Details of what transpired leading up to the opening faceoff on Tuesday began to emerge two days later and essentially go like this:
Kane, apparently first thinking a morning team meeting was at the hotel and not at the Rogers Arena, arrived wearing a track suit in what was a dress-code violation. Following a workout at the rink, sources say Dustin Byfuglien then threw Kane's clothes into the cold tub, either as a practical joke or in an effort to send a message to his teammate.
A reportedly upset Kane subsequently left the rink and then did not travel on the team's bus for the game and, as a result, missed the pre-game meeting. He was not seen by the team until the flight home Wednesday.
Team officials did attempt to reach him before the opening faceoff and when contact was made a half-hour prior to puck drop, Kane indicated he would not be playing and hung up the phone. It was at that point that Maurice made the decision to keep Kane out of the lineup.
The Jets returned to practice on Thursday with Kane nowhere in sight, and Maurice said he was being examined by team doctors about a lingering injury issue that may ultimately require surgery.
"I know that when I come out and say 'coach's decision,' I open all of us up to a tremendous amount of speculation," said Maurice after practice Thursday. "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.
"You're making an assumption about the reason, or the rules," added Maurice later. "It's important you make the decisions you think are right and as a coach you're as consistent as you possibly can be. That's important to the players, too."
Byfuglien spoke to the media Thursday after practice, but before these latest details of what had transpired in Vancouver 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 -- a sentiment echoed by Blake Wheeler.
"I'm sure you have rules in your household," said Byfuglien. "And if the kids don't stick to it, you've got to discipline them. It is what it is."
"There's a standard that everybody needs to live up to," Wheeler added. "We're professionals. We make a lot of money. We're expected to uphold a certain standard. That's the code we live by. That's just the way it is. If you don't like it then there's other places you can go. This is the way we do things."
Kane's effort on the ice has never been questioned during his days with the Jets. But this latest incident does carry potentially heavy consequences.
This isn't the same as Kane's Twitter games -- the money phone shot during the NHL lockout or the photo of him doing pushups with stacks of cash on his back -- but could speak of a rift between the 23-year-old and his teammates.
To be clear, none of the Jets who spoke to the media on Thursday were critical of Kane, but the collective tone in the their answers to questions was tired, especially given the importance of today's game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
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"I don't have much to say, really, beyond what happens in this room, what happens to this team stays within our room," said captain Andrew Ladd. "Unfortunately, you're probably not going to get more than that."
Craig Oster, Kane's agent, said in an email to the Free Press Thursday some comment from their camp would be forthcoming today.
"He's in this thing right now, we're not really sure what's going on," said Mathieu Perreault. "I guess we'll know more here soon. But right now our focus is on the team and what the team is doing so we're not going to worry about that."
-- with files from Gary Lawless
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THE KANE AFFAIR
A chronological look at events that led to Evander Kane missing Tuesday's game in Vancouver and its aftermath, based on reports:
MONDAY, FEB. 2: Jets fall 5-2 to Calgary; charter to Vancouver after the game.
TUESDAY, FEB. 3: Sometime during the day Kane meets with local media and talks about how excited he is to play in his hometown. A video of that interview is shown on the scoreboard during the pre-game warm-up.
Kane shows up to team meeting at Rogers Arena in Vancouver wearing a track suit, not a business suit, in a violation of team rules.
While Kane is working out or getting treatment, Dustin Byfuglien takes Kane's track suit and throws it in a cold tub.
Kane, upset, leaves rink and does not show up for the team bus later in the day when it departs for Rogers Arena. He misses the pre-game meeting.
Paul Maurice meets with the media at 4:30 p.m. Kane's status is not mentioned.
Team staff attempt to reach him prior to the opening faceoff, making contact 30 minutes prior to the game. Kane informs the staff he will not be playing and reportedly hangs up the phone.
Kane does not take part in the pre-game skate.
TSN 3 announces that Kane will not dress as per a "coach's decision."
WEDNESDAY, FEB. 4: Jets charter home from Vancouver; Free Press columnist Gary Lawless reports Kane was scratched due to a dress-code violation for wearing a track suit to a meeting.
THURSDAY, FEB. 5: Jets practice; Kane is not on the ice. Maurice indicates he is meeting with the medical staff about an injury issue that has bothered him all season.
Jets place Kane on injured reserve, retroactive to Feb. 2; recall F Patrice Cormier from St. John's.