BUFFALO, N.Y. — Sabres forward Evander Kane says he’s learned his lesson about sleeping in and missing practice now that he’s set to return to the lineup following a one-game benching.
“It was 100 per cent my responsibility to make sure I’m at the rink and I’m on time,” Kane said following practice Thursday. “I take full responsibility for my actions and I’m accountable for those. I paid the consequences. For me, it’s a lesson and it’s something I’m not going let happen again.”
Kane spoke shortly before coach Dan Bylsma announced the forward would return to the lineup for Buffalo’s game at Columbus on Friday after being a healthy scratch in a 2-1 shootout loss at Ottawa on Tuesday.
The punishment came a day after Kane informed Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray that he had slept in and wasn’t able to make it to practice.
Kane spent the previous night attending the NBA All-Star game in Toronto, which is about a two-hour drive from Buffalo. Pictures of Kane celebrating following the game surfaced on the player’s Instagram account before they were deleted.
Bylsma called Kane’s absence a disappointment.
“I have great optimism that it’s a lesson learned to be quite frank,” Bylsma said. “But it’s one that he has to also start to continue to show that he has learned that lesson. So I’m extremely optimistic that’s the direction he’s headed in.”
Kane is playing his first season in Buffalo after being acquired in a multi-player trade with Winnipeg last February.
He’s a top-line forward whose 16 goals ranks fourth on the team. He also has eight assists and is averaging 21 minutes of ice-time per game, which is second among Buffalo forwards.
Selected with the fourth pick in the 2009 draft, Kane openly questioned his five-plus season tenure in Winnipeg/Atlanta, and called the trade to Buffalo a fresh start.
On Thursday, Kane said he’s looking forward to put behind what happened this week.
“It’s not a trend that I want to be a part of,” Kane said. “Going forward, I’m going to be focusing on hockey as I always have, and try to be at my best each and every game for the remainder of the season.”
With Kane’s return, Bylsma said the Sabres intend to demote rookie forward Justin Bailey to their AHL affiliate in Rochester. Bailey had no points in four games over the past week.