Evander Kane hasn't asked for the check yet, but it's clear that he's ready to get up from the table in Winnipeg.
The Jets forward appeared on The TEAM 1040 in Vancouver on Tuesday with hosts Matt Sekeres and Pete Schaad. After a bit of small talk about a local golf tournament, the conversation turned to the perception that Kane has mentally packed his bags and is looking to be traded.
If he was trying to play coy with his responses, he did a pretty lousy job (transcript courtesy Michael Remis):
Sekeres and Schaad: Evander do you want to play for the Winnipeg Jets anymore?
Kane: Well, I think, uh, I’m a Winnipeg Jet right now and, um, you know there’s been speculation and rumors for the three years since I got there. You know, we’ll see what happens, and we’ll carry on as if I’m a Winnipeg Jet.
Sekeres and Schaad: There’s not a yes in there, and some Jets fans might say, "Why doesn’t he want to play for us?" or "Why isn’t he absolutely fully on board for playing for us?"…. you’re shaking your finger at me.
Evander Kane: I’m training hard and getting ready for this season, and last summer I didn’t have a full year of training due to some surgery I had, so I found it really important for me to start training early and get in the best shape possible for this season and that’s my focus.
Hard to imagine Kane's message being any more clear, short of him actually demanding a trade on the air.
If fans in Winnipeg held out any hope that Kane might commit to being part of the solution for the floundering franchise, they can go ahead and pack it away with their vintage Jets sweaters. For whatever reason, he wants out. And the last thing a young, developing team needs hanging over it is a player that doesn't want to be there.
There's no pressure on GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to make anything happen right away, though. And that's a good thing. Dealing an asset like Kane would be challenging for a veteran horse trader. For someone whose boldest swap to date has been Johnny Oduya for a couple of draft picks, this will be his first time sitting at the adult table. It would make sense for Cheveldayoff to take full use of the time he has in hand to measure his options and see what's other there for him.
Ideally, he cultivates a deal structurally similar to what Boston got for Tyler Seguin. The reality though will probably be less appealing.
But even if he can't declare victory with the return, Cheveldayoff has to avoid paralysis. He's been accused of being unwilling to take risks in the past, but Kane isn't leaving him much of an option. If he doesn't get full value, fine. It's worth taking one step back in order to take two going forward.