Unless you've been hiding under a rock recently, you can't have failed to notice that, once again, Winnipeg Jets power-forward and Matt Cooke nemesis Evander Kane is in the news again.
The 23-year-old winger reportedly skipped turning up for a game v the Canucks in his hometown of Vancouver, in a move that was first claimed to be a team issue due to him attending a team meeting in sweatsuit rather than...well, actual suit. Tonight, however, reports have emerged claiming missing the game was Kane's own choice after team-mate Dustin Byfuglien threw his clothes into a shower to make a point-a straw that, it appears, may have broken the camel's back.
To add to the pot and just stir it a little more, the Jets have now placed Kane on injured reserve, which means he can't play this weekend and is ineligible until February 10th.
Kane has never had the best relationship with Winnipeg-either the city or the team itself-he's frequently been a target for media criticism and reams of words have been written about his possible "attitude problems", most notably after the famous "money phone" incident of 2012...arguments that for many have always had an uncomfortable undercurrent of race to them.
Indeed, Kane himself has said that at least some of the criticism is race-related-remarks that caused a whole tornado of think-pieces from writers educated and not-so-educated (including some thoughtful commentary from SBN's Jets blog Arctic Ice Hockey, which right now probably has some sort of Kane War-Room going as their staff react to the changing developments.
And when you look at the coverage of Kane, it's tricky not to feel just a little uncomfortable about the way the Winnipeg media have portrayed him...even now the hints are going back and forth that there's far more to this than originally painted and Kane isn't the victim here...it's kind of hard to not at least sympathise with the player when even when he appears to be the victim the media (overwhelmingly middle-aged and white) fire the kind of charges at him and use the kind of language (like "flamboyant", "arrogant" and "problem child") that you don't see them fire at other players in similar situations very often.
Even at this point-imagine, just for a second, that it was Kane who had thrown Byfuglien's clothes into the shower. At the moment, Byfuglien's actions are being excused by the media as "teaching a lesson" and "setting an example" to Kane, which is an interesting way to describe "being a twat with someone else's property". Maybe it's because of something the team media get about hockey leadership that us mere bloggers can't).
You're probably thinking "yup. I can already see the "locker-room cancer annoys team-mates again" stories from the likes of Gary Lawless from here".
This may look like a digression, but the media treatment of Evander Kane isn't just questionable in Winnipeg, and actually leads me to question whether or not Kane would fit with the Bruins, who are rumoured to be one of the teams interested in him.
Certainly, on the ice Kane looks like an answer to Peter Chiarelli's prayers...the Bruins have been heavily linked with Buffalo's Chris Stewart recently and, as a Sabres fan, I can tell you that given the choice between Chris Stewart and Evander Kane on my squad there wouldn't even be a debate. Stewart sits a very poor second. Kane's a big, fast power forward with skills that could perfectly complement several other forwards on the Bruins (imagine him pounding down the left side battering space for David Krejci to do his thing, for instance) and with Milan Lucic having not the best of seasons, the Bruins would love another power forward option to rotate in on the top line wing.
Plus, of course, Kane is popular amongst many in Boston already for...well, this moment alone:
Trouble is, Boston, like Winnipeg, has its fair share of paid hockey media who would just LOVE to get their teeth into a problem like Evander. Remember what certain sections of the Boston media said about Tyler Seguin's "attitude" and questioning of his lifestyle? Now imagine that over a figure like Evander Kane.
It's not like there's not form already for this. Noted Bruins columnist and rent-a-gob Kevin Paul Dupont at the Globe has already begun adding his (considerable) voice to the debate of Kane in Boston, and...well, frankly it looks like the crapshoot potential is off the charts. You only have to look at his noted scorn for PK Subban (another high-profile Kane-like player who's had the same charges Kane has levelled at him off the ice) to see the problems coming.
But just in case, here's KPD dispensing his wisdom this evening. Of course, starting by getting the guys age wrong is NOT a good look.
Evander Kane only 24. A very young 24.— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) February 5, 2015
Wait, Kane a very young 23. Younger by the day.
— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) February 5, 2015
Good start. But hey, there's more!
Convinced #Bruins have a team culture that could cope with and help reshape, focus Kane. Other clubs will believe same.— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) February 5, 2015
"Reshape and focus"? He's already talking about Kane like he's a "problem child" that "needs to be fixed". Very, VERY similar to the treatment of Seguin in Boston and, indeed, Kane in Winnipeg. Then, of course, there's an obligatory shot at Subban for diving...(interesting that Subban is the guy he's picked out of all the players he could have who are known to "embellish" a bit:
Of course, I am still convinced PK Subban would stop diving if he played for #Bruins.— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) February 5, 2015
Then there's this beauty...
Clear response here from many who feel Kane useless, not worth anyone's bother.— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) February 5, 2015
So you go from "Bruins could be a home for Kane" to "actually, lots of people are telling me he's not worth the effort" in three tweets?! Finally, KPD comes out somehow linking the reaction to Joe Thornton (another ridiculously skilled player who had the media in Boston turn on him) to how Boston is reacting to the prospect of Kane:
Some of reax today re: Kane similar to when I suggested #Bruins should pull 'C' from Joe Thornton.— Kevin Paul Dupont (@GlobeKPD) February 5, 2015
All this at even the THOUGHT of Kane arriving. Imagine the fun he'd have with Kane if the Bruins actually grabbed him. Or imagine how the likes of Joe Haggerty would react to even the slightest hint of Kane's individuality.
In short-Evander Kane would be a hell of a player for Boston. The problem he has is that, perhaps, his reputation will proceed him and if he does come here the Bruins media will already be preparing to recycle those Tyler Séguin stories-particularly if he struggles.
The question for Boston isn't "would Evander Kane fit with the team". As an elite power forward with a point to prove he could be like Séguin in reverse...a player hounded out of a city by media problems and concerns over commitment who's just waiting to prove people wrong. As a Sabres fan-if there were a possible way to get Kane on the team, I'd probably go up to and including selling a kidney, never mind assets.
Bruins would have to move some salary to make the deal happen, which may be the biggest stumbling block, but given the Jets want him gone, the potential to chuck in some dead-weight (Greg Campbell, anyone? Chris Kelly, maybe?) and get the Jets to take the deal are higher now than it's been before. Don't forget Peter Chiarelli once managed to get Tuukka Rask for an already-doomed ANDREW FREAKING RAYCROFT...so don't bet against him pulling this off given the chance.
So-Kane could get to Boston, and he could be a major contributor. The only fly in the ointment is this-how long would Boston's media give him, and how big is the danger that he'll be treated by Bruins media exactly the same as he was in Winnipeg?
Only one way to find out...