Off The Draw
So it appears that Evander Kane’s shocking banishment to the press box on Tuesday night in Vancouver was the result (at least partially) of his violating the Jets’ team dress code. And that, apparently, is not going over well with some Winnipeg fans.
A scan of social media reveals that many people don’t understand or agree with the team rule that dictates that all Jets players attend team events dressed in suits. But questioning it from the angle of disagreeing with the rule misses the point entirely.
What matters is that the rest of Winnipeg’s players have bought into the rule and are abiding by it. And Kane, at the worst possible time, decided that it didn’t apply to him.
Granted, wearing sweatpants to a meeting isn’t a big thing. But discipline is. In fact, it’s been the biggest thing lately in Winnipeg, where a string of bad penalties and several instances of players deviating from the system of coach Paul Maurice are at the root of a five-game losing streak that has loosened the team’s grip on a playoff spot.
You have to wonder what Kane was thinking. Why did he think that now was a good time to test Maurice’s resolve?
Taken in the context of the Jets’ skid, this was more than a simple act of rebelliousness. It’s like a one-man mutiny. And it left Maurice no choice but to smack Kane down—right in front of friends and family in his hometown.
Was that what Kane wanted? To provoke a final confrontation that would expedite his exit from Winnipeg?
No doubt, the 23-year-old Kane is a unique talent, someone who may still develop into a core player. But no matter how high his ceiling might be, what he is now is a hard-working third-liner who counts $6 million against the salary cap. That’s a luxury that few teams can afford. The Jets certainly can’t—especially if Kane’s unwilling to get with the program. And with whispers from around the team suggesting that there’s more to his insubordination that just the sweatpants incident, that looks to be the case.
If Winnipeg is going to pull out of its tailspin, the Jets all have to pull in the same direction. No doubt Maurice’s bold decision ahead of a must-win game against the Canucks (a game that Winnipeg lost 3–2 in OT) reinforced that message to his players.
Players who would rather be distractions, in other words, likely won’t be Jets much longer.
UPDATE: According to TSN’s Sara Orlesky, Kane was not on the ice with his teammates this morning for practice in Winnipeg. Maurice later said that Kane was meeting with team doctors, but it has now been reported that he failed to show up for Tuesday night's game in Vancouver after having an altercation with teammate Dustin Byfuglien.
What to watch tonight
This battle between the top two teams in the West will be highlighted by the return of Nashville’s all-world goaltender, Pekka Rinne. Doesn’t get much better than this in the regular season.
The Predators come into the contest looking to extend their franchise-record nine-game home winning streak, while Anaheim is making the first stop on a five-game road trip.
The Ducks have won six of their last seven meetings with Nashville, including the last game, at The Pond on Jan. 4. Anaheim—which is 23-0-6 in one-goal games—prevailed 4–3 in a shootout in that one.
While all eyes will be on Rinne, the key to this contest might be Frederik Andersen. The Ducks’ goalie hasn’t been sharp of late, allowing four goals in each of his last two starts. But a win tonight would be his 29th of the season, tying him with Rinne for the league lead. Predators center Mike Ribeiro is worth watching as well. He chipped in three assists against Anaheim last month and is just one point shy of 700 for his career.
Rest of the schedule: Blues at Sabres (7 p.m. EST; FS-MW, MSG-B, BELL TV); Islanders at Flyers (7 p.m. EST; TVA, SN, MSG+, CSN-PH); Capitals at Senators (7:30 p.m. EST; CSN-DC+, RDS, TSN5); Kings at Panthers (7:30 p.m. EST; FS-W, FS-F); Lightning at Stars (8:30 p.m. EST; SUN, FS-SW+); Red Wings at Avalanche (9 p.m. EST; NBCSN, SN360, FS-D); Hurricanes at Coyotes (9 p.m. EST; FS-CR, FS-A); Sharks at Canucks (10 p.m. ET; CSN-CA, SNP)
What you missed
• If you root for a team with no shot of making the playoffs, you might want to spend a little time with this cool NHL Draft Lottery simulator to see how your favorite club might fare in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes.
• Fans in Boston T’d (as in shirt) off on P.K. Subban’s fine for diving and embellishment.
The numbers game
• Tonight in Buffalo, St. Louis, which is 11-0-1 in its last 12 games, will try to break a franchise record by earning a point in a 13th straight game.
• Developers are looking at two parcels of land that might be suitable for building an NHL-ready arena in Seattle.
• Looks like we'll have at least one more chance to watch Martin Brodeur rock the red. Not sure this will be fair to the other guys.
• Despite all of the Islanders’ success this season, their special teams haven’t been all that special.
• Dejan Kovacevic makes a compelling case for Kris Letang as the best defenseman in the NHL this season.