Edmonton willing to win at all costs amid Evander Kane rumours

Rumours that the Edmonton Oilers are potentially pursuing Evander Kane as a free agent has NHL fans asking if the former San Jose Shark should be back playing in league after a string of allegations and questionable behaviour.

Kane was placed on unconditional waivers for the purpose of a buyout on January 8 by San Jose after violating COVID-19 protocols. He was suspended 21 games for submitting a fake COVID-19 vaccine card on October 18.

The NHL also investigated gambling, domestic violence and sexual assault allegations levied by Kane’s estranged wife, Anna, in a divorce filing. On October 18, the league stated that the domestic violence allegations levied by Anna Kane against Evander Kane could not be substantiated.

Video Transcript

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Evander Kane, we've spoken about him on the show. We've gone in on some of the different transgressions he's gone through, pretty much leading up to when he was in San Jose. And then with San Jose, it seems as if with COVID, he just has turned himself into a much bigger habitual line-stepper in terms of how he's tried to handle the whole COVID thing, the fake vaccination passport or whatever. And now he's under investigation from the league, where it looks as if he may have violated more COVID protocols while being positive with COVID.

But is that going to stop NHL teams from getting him after he was put on unconditional waivers? No. The Edmonton Oilers seem like they want him. Let's broaden it out with Evander Kane first. I imagine if you guys were GMs, you probably wouldn't take Evander Kane on your team. Sam, since we haven't heard from you in a while, I want you to start. Would you sign Evander Kane?

SAM CHANG: That's a hard no for me. Sorry, I can't even say even if it were his second chance, because I'm still trying to get over Ken Holland saying I believe in second chances. I'm pretty sure his second chance came like three teams ago. Pretty sure his second chance had already passed when they got that photo of Dustin Byfuglien flipping him the bird.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, that's true.

SAM CHANG: I don't know where Ken Holland came up with this being his second chance and not like his 80th, 90th, 100th chance.

To your point, I don't know that he's becoming more of a line-stepper. I would say I think he's always been a guy who crosses the line. I think he's maybe just getting worse at keeping it under covers. And maybe teams are losing patience with him. And they're not covering it up for him anymore. That's my theory.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's a good point.

OMAR: Yeah, I agree 100%. Like, I wouldn't sign Evander Kane. And I think there are specific moments where you need to-- yes, hockey is a game. Yes, players are paid to score goals, win games, win championships, yada. But there has to be a line. There has to be a line, whether it's you as an individual, as an organization, as a team, whatever. There has to be a line.

And I feel like, for all the things that we know is going on with Evander Kane, like the Avalanche of just filth and negativity that's going on. And the fact that, one, you have a team, the Edmonton Oilers, who seem to be one of the active pursuers. But the fact that at a time there were like what? Up to 20 teams who were interested in him? Like, I think that's something that we need to focus on as well.

Yeah, Edmonton is a focal point. But there are a lot of teams who were in on this player. And just like, you kind of think about it, like why? When are we ever going to get to a point where being a good player isn't enough? When are we going to get to a point where it's like, yeah, OK, sure, you're a good player, you can score a lot of goals, but there is an aspect of that we just don't agree with, that we don't want to associate with? When are we going to get to that point?

And I think the most disappointing thing, and I think something that I guess resonates with this entire conversation, the Edmonton Oilers, they had a presser. Dave Tippett was asked questions. Connor McDavid was asked questions. And this is something that Connor McDavid said verbatim. I think Evander's a great player, and he can help us a lot on the ice. And that's first and foremost.

That's first and foremost? Really? And we can't do the whole thing where we pretend like, oh, I'm only focused on my team and yada-yada. Come on. It's 2022. Everyone has a phone. Everyone talks to people. Hockey is a very small-knit culture. Everyone knows a lot of things.

So I'm not going to sit here and pretend that you don't know what's going on, you don't know all the things that's taking place. So that's what's most important?

And yes, I understand. Edmonton Oilers, they need more scoring. Draisaitl and McDavid can't be doing it the entire-- every single night. I get that.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: You've complained about how they needed added reinforcements.

OMAR: Yeah, all the time. We've talked about it over and over again.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: All the time.

OMAR: But it just seems like there isn't lines being set. And the Edmonton Oilers, it's like Google search Evander Kane's Hockey DB page and said, oh, he scored 30 goals a couple of times. Cool, we'll throw him into the lineup, regardless of everything that took place. And I don't want to dump on Evander Kane.

Evander Kane was one of the founders of the Hockey Diversity Alliance. And I think that's one thing-- and I think that that's why this entire situation bothers me so much, because the HDA has been such an important thing for me and for a lot of people. And it sucks that he was one of the first people associated with that and that all of this stuff has come out.

So I want to support Evander Kane. I want to see him succeed. But I can't. I can't ignore what's going on. I think the fact that we're seeing another example of teams just ignoring everything and saying, hey, you're a good player, come score goals for us. I think, again, it just speaks to a lot of the issues that we're seeing in hockey culture.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Cuth?

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: To answer your question, do I sign Evander Kane, I mean, am I a real team or am I fake team? You tell me. Am I the Carolina Hurricanes, who are built well and function properly under Rod Brind'Amour? Or am I the Edmonton Oilers and Ken Holland, who are so desperate that they need to take on a potential issue like this?

I mean, it really depends on which team you are. And I understand why the Edmonton Oilers are doing it, because they don't have any other answers. They're lost. Ken Holland has no idea how to acquire talent anymore. That's clear. And that's why this is probably going to happen.

And the worst thing is, I bet it works for a little while. I bet Evander Kane comes in, and they make the playoffs, and he does pretty well.

OMAR: Yep.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: And then what's going to happen? The Edmonton Oilers are going to sign him to a contract extension or a contract in the summer. And it's going to be for big money in term. And it's going to blow up in their faces. That's exactly what's going to happen. It happened in San Jose. They loved him. Seven years, $49 million, there were problems, there were red flags, there was all that. And now he's had his contract terminated.

This is what happens. He can behave for a little while. But a desperate team needs something. Oilers are a desperate team. That's why they're going out to get him. So would I sign him? If I'm Ken Holland, maybe, because I don't have any other answers. If I'm someone else, if I'm a good team, then no, I'm not.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah. This is my whole thing about it, right? Evander Kane, just off of just the different stories that we've heard in Winnipeg and in his personal life with his partner and the gambling investigation, which, fine, nothing came of it. But that was still out there. There just seems to be all these different issues that are just around him. And I know I don't want that.

And I don't get the sense that he was well-liked by a lot of his teammates. I understand that in locker rooms, you are going to be playing with guys don't necessarily like. You're not going to have kumbaya moments every single year with every iteration of the roster that you have. But I still think there's something to have some level of chemistry or some level of tolerability amongst your players.

I don't know if Evander Kane would necessarily gel all that well in a locker room if I was a GM. And I would be very concerned about having him in my locker room. That's why, when this whole Ken Holland thing was coming out, the two people I thought of were Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, because at the end of the day, everyone can make the point about, how could Ken Holland go after Evander Kane? How could he do this with everything going on?

And I know we're singling out Ken Holland here. There are other teams that are interested. I'm not going to get tripped up on the number, because agents could put out whatever they want there in terms of numbers. But we know there were teams that looked around for Evander Kane. It's just that Ken Holland is just the one guy who stepped up and said something.

But if Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl went into Ken Allen's office and said, Evander Kane is out there, yeah, we looked up his DB page, he scored 30 goals all those years ago. And even though he doesn't score 30 goals anymore, he still scores at least 20. And he could help us get to the playoffs this year.

I wonder what you do if you're Ken Holland, right? And also, to add to this, he said that he wasn't really willing to give up futures and draft picks at his press conference for added help. There's a part of me that wonders, if I'm Ken Holland, and I get Evander Kane, why do I need to do that? I got the scoring help that I need? I wondered if he thought about that.

I wonder if he thinks that he has this in the bag and he feels like, yo, if I sign Evander Kane on the cheap, what am I doing shelling out futures for somebody else? I'll find some other goalie on the cheap or whatever. I don't need to work that hard. I got the prize fish that I want.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I wondered if he put his hand up and say, hey, I'll talk to the media today because I want Evander Kane to know how much I want him. I want him to know how much we would support him if he came. That's what I thought because he was requested, yeah, but he was the one who called it. No media member said, hey, this is why Ken Holland is talking today. He wanted to talk.

And by the end, once he had finished talking about Evander Kane, he didn't want to answer any more questions. So I wonder if that's what his motivation was behind that.

OMAR: Yeah, 100%. He's playing 5D chess.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: For the first time ever, he's playing 5D chess.

[LAUGHTER]

SAM CHANG: Which is all fine, but then can we stop talking about how NHL teams care about guys who are good in the locker room and good character matters so much to my team?

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That's bullshit, yeah.

SAM CHANG: Just stop talking about it.

OMAR: Yeah, it's always been.

SAM CHANG: Just say what we all know, which is that all that you care about is somebody who can score goals, get you into the playoffs so you don't get fired. And you don't give a shit about character. That's just a story you use for your marketing, except your marketing is so bad that everyone knows it's fake.

OMAR: Yeah, exactly. Like one of the questions-- they asked Ken Holland-- I think someone brought up like, oh, when McDavid and Draisaitl aren't on the ice, the Oilers are being outscored 2 to 1. He had like seven seconds of buffering time and then brought up Detroit because he has no answers.

So OK, so I'm just going to maneuver the system a little bit and then have the trade deadline acquisition without having to bring on these futures. I get it, for sure. But yeah, to Sam's point, we always see that all the time, like, oh, we want to bring in good people. And we want to have people who care about each other and yada, yada, yada.

I think year after year after year, we've seen more and more examples of that that's just a bunch of bull. And honestly, as long as you can provide something positive to the team, a team will tolerate you to an extent and then deal with you afterwards.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I will say, though, to my previous point, real teams, good teams, I think that is part of their identity. Fake teams like the Edmonton Oilers, who are desperate, they don't care. They throw those morals out the window because they need it. They need him. They need something.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Man.

SAM CHANG: I don't know. Carolina signed Tony D.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: That's true.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Yeah, that's true.

OMAR: Yeah, that is true.

[INTERPOSING VOICES]

JULIAN MCKENZIE: How real can you call Carolina?

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: That's real true.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: That is real true. I forgot about that.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: I forgot about that.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I'll say this about Tony D, dude's been quiet all year.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: He shut up.

SAM CHANG: He learned to shut up.

OMAR: Yeah, at least he stopped it.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I have not heard anything.

SAM CHANG: Yeah.

OMAR: Yeah.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: I haven't heard a damn thing, not a podcast, not a tweet, nothing, not even when the anniversary of the insurrection came through. He ain't say nothing.

OMAR: That is true, yeah. He was just like, I don't think I should talk about this.

[LAUGHTER]

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: He's that meme with the guy with the vein coming out of his head that entire day.

[LAUGHTER]

JULIAN MCKENZIE: If Evander Kane joins a team-- because I feel like at this point, it's not a matter of if he'll join a team. It's which team is he going to join. Evander Kane, we kind of tried to make the point on a previous episode. Dude's going to have to shape the hell up. And if he finds a way to mess up a cup chance for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, man.

JUSTIN CUTHBERT: He might have to create it to mess it up, though, unfortunately.

OMAR: I mean, I don't know, man.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: Man.

OMAR: I mean, he got brought onto San Jose. And then Joe Thornton and Brett Burns did the whole, hey, at the airport, hey, this is how we do things here. And you're not going to mess around. And he said, yeah, for sure. I'm not going to mess around. And then you know what I mean?

So it's just like--

SAM CHANG: It's not even just that, though, Omar. To your earlier point, when the HDA started, no one had a laundered image like Evander Kane. He was front and center. He was speaking up. He had great pieces about him, great publicity. People were willing to throw everything he had done out the window while he was the face of the HDA.

And there were Black Girl Hockey Club and a lot of Black women hockey fans were like, hey, HDA, maybe you should address these domestic violence issues and these issues that are important to Black women. And they never did. And we all know what happened like a year later.

JULIAN MCKENZIE: As someone who wrote about the HDA for Yahoo once upon a time and made Evander Kane-- I mean, I didn't get to speak to him for it-- but made him essentially a centerpiece of that story. I'm part of that problem. And I kind of share some of the--

I sympathize with Omar too, because I wanted to believe that Evander Kane changed. And I wanted to believe that he put all of that BS behind him and turned a new leaf and is now putting his support into something that is supposed to help the game be better. And he's not a part of that. He's just being a problematic human being who may even mess up his own bread by being investigated for messing up COVID protocol, because, yeah, the Oilers might have signed him by this weekend.

Who knows when you'll be available to be signed, depending on how this investigation goes for the NHL. But of course, we're going to continue to follow that Evander Kane story as it goes along.

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