If you have any connections to Winnipeg, and love hockey, there is a good chance you have heard about the rumors surrounding Winnipeg Jets prodigy Evander Kane. There have been unsubstantiated rumors and gossip that Kane has had a habit of walking out of local restaurants and bars, without paying his bills. For anyone not familiar with Kane, he is a 2009 first round draft pick, Jets lead goal scorer, and many say has the ability to one day become a 50 goal scorer.
(photo courtesy of the Toronto Sun)
Several blogs and articles have mentioned the allegations. Winnipeg Free Press reporter Gary Lawless wrote an article in defense of Kane. Less flattering articles have come from 'Puck Daddy' author Greg Wyshynski. The worst article I have read thus far has come from ex-Free Press sports columnist Scott Taylor. The Taylor article is full of inaccuracies, and invites readers to some morally reprehensible websites that have discussions on Kane, including thedirty.com.
One commentator using the handle "Hildymac" had this interesting tidbit in regards to Kane's time in Atlanta, and advice for the young star:
"Here in ATL, no one cared what he did, both on and off the ice. The coaches were terrible at accountability, the party scene was great and the guys were unknowns outside of the fan base. Factor in no press coverage, and you have the perfect environment for a young guy to basically do whatever. Regardless of if Kane's walked out on tabs or been a douche-nozzle in public or not, he needs to adjust to the spotlight if he wants to be successful in Winnipeg"
It seems to me that there is one player on just about every NHL team, who stands alone in acting as a lighting rod for off ice rumors and gossip about their supposed off-ice shenanigans. I currently reside in Edmonton, and I have learned that nearly the exact same gossip is spread about Oilers star Taylor Hall. When I resided in Calgary a few years ago, most gossip focused around ex-Flames player Dion Phaneuf. Let's not forget about ex-Senators forward Dany Heatley. I won't even contemplate what these players would have to endure if they played for the Montreal Canadiens, as the local media would likely tear them to shreds.
This is not a unique phenomenon either. Imagine if social media had been around when the first incarnation of the Winnipeg Jets existed. Keith Tkachuk was infamous for his supposed off ice antics. Let's not forget about Calgary's Theo Fleury, Edmonton's Glenn Anderson, Ottawa's Alexei Yashin, and Vancouver's Pavel Bure. Even two time MVP, and hall of fame member Mark Messier was not immune from this. Messier's time with the Canucks organization was marred by controversy, including reports that he demanded that he wear the #11, even though it had been unofficially retired in honor of the late Wayne Maki, despite the pleas of the Maki family.
I`ve heard of talk about Kane`s supposed antics when he was a member of the Atlanta Thrashers, and when he played junior hockey with the Vancouver Giants. Some may be true, some may not. However, at 20 years of age, Kane is still a young man who has a lot of maturing to do. If Kane is a pompous arrogant asshole outside the rink, that does not really concern me. If he is doing his job contributing to the Winnipeg Jets hockey club in a positive manner, that is all I am really concerned about. He won`t be the first, or the last NHL player in Winnipeg to make a negative impression on locals.