If Kane goes unclaimed (which will be known shortly after 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on Sunday), the Sharks will be able to cancel the three-and-a-half years and about $24 million remaining on Kane’s deal.
But that won’t be the end of the story.
The NHL is supporting the Sharks’ move, “satisfied the Club has sufficient grounds to effectuate a termination.” The NHLPA tweeted that it will “challenge any such action by filing a grievance.” Kane’s agent, Dan Milstein, tweeted “the Sharks do not have sufficient grounds for taking this action.”
Kane was suspended the first 21 games of this season for COVID protocol violations — the use of a fake vaccination card. Once eligible to return, he joined the team’s AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracudas, where he had eight points in five games.
He tested positive for the coronavirus on Dec. 21. In a statement, the Sharks said Kane was terminated for “breach of his Standard Player Contract” and “violation of the AHL COVID-19 protocols.” According to several sources, there is a dispute over a flight to Vancouver on Dec. 29, while in the 10-day AHL protocol — whether or not Kane had medical clearance to do it.
There is also a dispute on his return to the Barracuda. The Sharks allege he was supposed to be back on Dec. 31, and didn’t return until Jan. 6.
Barring some kind of settlement, the arbitrator would rule on these issues.
That leads to another question: If Kane does grieve, will he be able to play for another NHL while that process plays through? There will be plenty of interest in him as an unrestricted free agent; the league and union would have to agree on how that could work. In theory, if Kane won, he could have two contracts.
The 30-year-old Kane had 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points in 56 games last season for the Sharks. Kane also has played for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise and Buffalo since being drafted by the Thrashers fourth overall in 2009.
Kane has 264 goals and 242 assists for 506 points in 769 career games.
–with files from The Associated Press