So it boils down to this: Is Evander Kane capable of carrying himself in a professional manner, representing the NHL, the Buffalo Sabres organization, and the city of Buffalo in a positive way? And if he’s not, is his upside enough to stomach it?
Last year, Kane was suspected of sexual assault after a downtown nightclub incident. Ultimately, he wasn’t charged. In February, Kane missed a team practice because he prioritized partying at the NBA All-Star game over his responsibilities with the team. And just last week Kane turned himself to authorities, after being charged with four separate counts of non-criminal harassment and one count of criminal trespassing while at a Chippewa St. nightclub early on June 24 (during, of all things, the NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo).
This is not a burst of youthful, twenty-something exuberance, it’s a pattern of poor judgement.
Controversies, both real and overblown, seem to follow the 2009 fourth overall draft pick no matter where he is. A change of scenery was supposed to be a magic elixir to his troubles, yet his off-ice issues and social media blunders have occurred while with both Winnipeg and Buffalo.
Is he capable of staying out of trouble? Is he capable of taking himself out of these kind of situations which often lead to trouble? Unfortunately, that answer seems to be no. Meanwhile, nearly every other athlete can go out and socialize without making the 11 o’clock news.
As one of the many millionaire twenty-something athletes in today’s sports-obsessed society, is he a “victim” of his success, with a target on his back? Or is Kane’s arrogant personality showing its true colors?
At some point one must consider Kane’s character. No matter how many goals he scores, is his inflated sense of self too much of a liability? And let’s not forget, this is Evander Kane, not Patrick Kane. In his seven-year career, Evander has averaged only 18 goals per season. Not counting his concussion-plagued season last year, Tyler Ennis has averaged more than 17 goals per season over the previous five.
A recent poll conducted by Sabres Hockey Central reveals mixed feelings among Sabre fans. 53% said to keep him, 39% said to trade him at any cost, and 8% to buy him out.
Murray paid mightily for Kane. The February 11, 2015 trade sent Kane along with Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf to Buffalo for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, and a 2015 first-round pick.
At the time, Murray, boldly stated (does he ever not say something boldly?), “I’m not worried about his character.” Now? He’s singing a different tune.
“He’s going to have to pick and choose his spots when he goes out a lot better than he does, and he’s going to have to behave himself a lot better than he has obviously. Whether he has done these things or not, or he is guilty of these things or not, it’s not something I like getting up in the morning and reading about, that’s for sure. It’s not good for the organization. It’s not good for him.” –Tim Murray
It’s no mystery that the Sabres General Manager was entertaining offers for Kane at the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. It’s unlikely Murray is going to allow much more of these shenanigans to take place when he’s busy trying to recruit and build a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. His tolerance and his patience are likely being tested, while his ego is also being challenged. Trading Kane or getting his contract voided by the NHL–a legitimate possibility–would mean Murray would have to admit a mistake.
At this point, Murray’s leverage has shrunk considerably given Kane’s off-ice antics. Trading Kane would amount to a case of buying high, selling low.
There are risks to making trades. Murray has taken some chances to improve a franchise that was going nowhere when he took over. Keeping Kane amounts to rolling the dice yet again. If Murray is unable to secure a reasonable return for Kane, Las Vegas may be Evander’s ultimate destination. A natural one at that.
In my opinion, Kane is not able. And looking at his most recent incident, it’s only fitting it involves grain (of the alcoholic variety) and disobedience.