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This article was published 6/2/2015 (2702 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
LOST in the latest Evander Kane saga -- and really, really lost -- is this:
The Winnipeg Jets are about to start a mammoth three-game homestand against Central Division rivals, beginning tonight against the Chicago Blackhawks and followed by visits from the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday and the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.
Oh yeah... the playoff race.
The Jets, for their part, were spitting out a party line Thursday about the homestand being huge and the Kane twist not being a sideshow -- even as 95 per cent of the questions fired their way related to their absent left-winger.
So, a distraction?
"If we make it one," said Blake Wheeler. "We have a big game (Friday). We're starting to dig our way out of a hole. I thought our game in Vancouver was a great step in the right direction. We didn't get the result we wanted but that's the nature of the game. We just need to focus on the task at hand, worry about the way we played last game and keep hoping from there."
The Jets summoned Patrice Cormier from St. John's after placing Kane on injured reserve Thursday afternoon.
At Thursday morning's practice the club had the top line of Andrew Ladd, Bryan Little and Wheeler intact, with Dustin Byfuglien -- moved up to forward from defence in Tuesday's loss to Vancouver -- still at right wing alongside Mark Scheifele and Mathieu Perreault. The third line featured Chris Thorburn, Adam Lowry and Michael Frolik while Jim Slater centred T.J. Galiardi and Anthony Peluso.
Byfuglien was clearly not enamoured being back up front Tuesday. He addressed the same questions Thursday after practice.
"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. So, 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."
Maurice, meanwhile, 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 agent -- Craig Oster of Newport Sports Management -- said in an email he will comment on what has transpired today.
Asked Thursday if what has happened might affect Kane's relationship with his teammates, Wheeler added:
"I can't really speak on that. For me, we've lost five straight. I've got bigger things to worry about. I'm worried about winning (Friday) night.
"We've got a big game against Chicago, the rest will take care of itself. I'm not going to answer any more questions about Evander Kane. We've got a big game against the Blackhawks (Friday) night."
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