On Wednesday, Evander Kane was traded from the Winnipeg Jets to the Buffalo Sabres, ending what was a rocky tenure with Canada’s newest NHL team. The blockbuster Kane trade didn’t just pop up out of nowhere – there had been a long history of controversies, both real and overblown, that rubbed many in Winnipeg the wrong way.
Here’s a timeline of the “episodes” that led to the sixth-year forward being traded out of town.
October 26, 2011: It didn’t take long for rumours to start that Kane wanted out of Winnipeg. In the first month of the season word started to spread that Kane was asking for a trade away from the Jets. Both the agent and the player unequivocally denied these allegations.
“No, I have not (asked for a trade). I guess people on social media come up with rumours,” Kane said to the Winnipeg Free Press at the time.
“I can’t speak for anybody but myself. The story started on some blog. I haven’t even read it. I don’t know what to think. I haven’t asked for a trade and I’m happy where I am and I expect to be here for a long time,”
October 28, 2011: That same week Kane’s “business manager” Jeffrey Uppal had been approaching restaurants in the Winnipeg area requesting $500 for his client in exchange for positive promotional tweets from Kane’s Twitter account. Small time stuff in a big city, but irksome to the people of Winnipeg who weren’t used to these kinds of “business moves.”
January 10, 2012: Although there were early signs of trouble between Kane and head coach Claude Noel as early as October, it wasn’t until a couple months later that things seemed to bubble over. Noel benched the then third-year forward for much of the first two periods in a game against the Boston Bruins. Kane, arguably the team’s best forward playing on the top line, logged just 4:19 in the first period, and 6:19 in the second. All while sitting during his linemates’ (Blake Wheeler and Bryan Little) regular shift.
“I wasn’t happy with the way he started the game,” said Noel in his post-game press-conference. “Are you going to play or are you not? Figure it out. So I’m not going to wait for the game to start. The game’s started. I saw two or three shifts and I’d seen enough. Like, what do you want to do here?”
January 16, 2012: In a game against the Senators in Ottawa a fan’s sign made the rounds on social media that read “Dear Evander: Please stop walking out on your bills. Sincerely, Winnipeg servers and restauranteurs.”
Kane addressed the sign and the rumours a week later with a tweet on the 22nd, that is no longer on his account, that simply read “Ha, Ha. What a complete lie this is but I really like the colours on the poster.”
The Winnipeg Free Press looked into the allegations and found no basis to the claim, but it continued to sour his relationship with Jets fans.
January 31, 2012: The Jets ask Kane to tone down his use of social media. The Winnipeg Sun said the measure was done as a “strategy to help the 20-year-old combat the social media onslaught that’s enveloped him during his first season in Winnipeg.”
February 7, 2012: Kane returned to the lineup on Feb. 7 against the Toronto Maple Leafs after missing nearly three weeks to a concussion. However, fans and media couldn’t recall an incident where he would have been concussed, leading to speculation the concussion was an off-ice injury.
In a scrum before the Leafs game, Kane said he believed the injury initially occurred on Dec. 20 against the Islanders, and he unwittingly played through it before making matters worse on Jan. 19 against Buffalo.
Regardless, Kane was forced to address the rumours on Feb. 7.
“I obviously care about my reputation and I want to have a strong reputation in the community,” Kane said Tuesday before the Jets-Leafs game. “It’s unfortunate that certain people are creating a negative mood.”
Even head coach Noel stood up for his star player.
“Evander is a good person. I like Evander,” said Noel. “It’s tough lessons of life in a small market. I’m sure it’s had an effect on him. I don’t know how. We’re working with him. Good kid, tough lessons. It has affected him.
“The way they have him portrayed is really unfair. That’s the world we live in. Sometimes you get humbled. It’s a tough lesson. He’s dealing with it the best he can. We’re trying to help him. It’s tough. Who wants to be criticized every time you turn around?”
September 16, 2012: Despite an up-and-down first season in Winnipeg, the Jets signed Kane to a six-year deal worth $31.5 million. The deal came on the heels of what turned out to be Kane’s best season in the NHL where he scored 30 goals and notched 57 points in 74 games.
September 28, 2012: With the NHL about to enter its second lockout in less than a decade the Jets’ newly signed forward was the first Canadian-born player to go overseas to play professionally. Kane signed with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL.
November 16, 2012: Evander Kane’s time in the KHL lasted just 12 games as Dinamo Minsk and the forward “mutually” parted ways in November. Kane had scored one goal and no assists in those games, and was a minus-12.
“Unfortunately, Evander Kane could not adapt to hockey in the KHL,” athletic director Igor Matushkin said on the team’s website as Kane’s departure was announced.
December 19, 2012: Without the NHL, and with the KHL no longer an option, Kane posted his infamous money phone picture to Twitter. With the NHL lockout and thousands of people unemployed as a result, many thought this was not the best time to be showboating his wealth.
June 13, 2013: After playing in all of the Jets’ post-lockout games Kane caused a stir when he posted a homophobic tweet. Kane’s tweet, which has since been deleted, read: “Chris Bosh looked like a fairy going to the rim.” This tweet caused a major backlash among his followers and he later released an apology.
November 6, 2013: After nursing a lower-body injury and missing two games Noel benched Kane before a game against the Chicago Blackhawks. Noel said Kane sat because he hadn’t completely recovered from injury, but Kane said otherwise.
“Obviously that feeling wasn’t mutual.”
“I don’t know what that meant,” he said. “The definition of a healthy scratch is a healthy player not playing so that was my interpretation, and it’s pretty obvious that’s what it was.”
December 2013: Kane takes a picture with New York’s finest pretending to be arrested.
April 3, 2014: Kane is accused of assault after an incident in Vancouver and sued for financial damages. According to the Winnipeg Free Press:
A Vancouver-area man named Lev Makievsky is seeking unspecified financial damages from Kane in a statement of claim filed last week in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. None of the allegations has been proven.
Kane has 30 days to file a statement of defence. If he feels the claim is frivolous or malicious, he can countersue Makievsky.
The Free Press has learned Vancouver police previously investigated Makievsky’s version of events and ultimately took no action against Kane, who was born in B.C. and spends much of his off-season there.
“We did investigate allegations of an assault on that day and at that location, but given the circumstances of the incident there were no arrests made and there was insufficient evidence to support or recommend any criminal charges,” Const. Brian Montague told the Free Press on Wednesday. “From our perspective, the matter is considered closed.”
April 5, 2014: Kane is a healthy scratch under new head coach Paul Maurice in a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Hockey Night in Canada.
After the game Maurice said it was a coach’s decision and that if Kane wanted back in the lineup all he needed to do was “probably just come to the rink.”
December 1, 2014: Kane posts a picture of him doing pushups with money on his back, bringing back memories of the money phone incident.
December 12, 2014: Noel, now a coach of the Vancouver Giants of the WHL, dished on his strained relationship with Kane during his tenure in Winnipeg.
“Evander was a little bit of a challenge,” said Noel, who the Giants officially announced as their new coach on Nov. 30.
“He’s a young guy when we got him. He was on the Twitter world a little bit so that was a little bit of a challenge. I really didn’t have a lot of problems with Evander. I mean, Evander can be a real good player and Winnipeg’s a fairly small, passionate town, smaller city.
“There, people … well, you’re under a microscope, especially when we first got there. If you went sideways on a few things, it was all over the place so it was pretty overwhelming for a lot of players. Coming from Atlanta, it really opened your eyes.
“But he’s a guy that can be a real impact player. I know they’re critical of some of the things he does. I’m hoping that’s a maturity thing that eventually he gets a little bit better at. But I didn’t really have a real … we had a few issues, there’s no doubt, but nothing really major for me. I think that’s just part of coaching in the national league.
February 3, 2015: Kane was a healthy scratch in his hometown of Vancouver vs. the Canucks. It was later determined that he was scratched because of an incident with his teammates.
Kane wore a track suit when the Jets players gathered that morning for a meeting — a violation of team policy. Following a brief workout and stretch, Byfuglien is believed to have thrown those clothes into the shower to send a message to his teammate, according to sources.
February 5, 2015: Kane was placed on injured reserve when it was revealed he’d been dealing with a shoulder injury for much of the season.
February 6, 2015: Kane opted for surgery on his shoulder, meaning he’ll be out the remainder of the season. Since the forward has been able to play with the injury for as long as he had, some viewed it as the relationship with the Jets straining further, and his decision to go under the knife a reaction to the events from the day before. Kane’s agent, Craig Oster, vehemently denied those assumptions.
February 11, 2015: Evander Kane was traded to the Buffalo Sabres along with Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, prospects Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux, and a 2015 first-round pick.