Dogged by controversy for much of his career, Kane met with the media on Friday alongside general manager Ken Holland and head coach Dave Tippett, and faced multiple questions about his off-ice behaviour. He downplayed the controversy around the incidents of his past that drew social-media ire from Oilers fans after they learned of the official signing on Thursday, calling accounts of some of the stories “inaccurate” and “completely untrue,” although he didn’t specify.
“For me, life is a process,” said Kane, 30. “You’re not going to have the same mindset or act the same way from 14 to 20 to 25 to now I’m 30. You live and you learn. I think everybody in this has made lots of mistakes, they’re just not documented, they’re just not publicly recorded, they’re not questioned. I’m not sitting here saying I’m perfect, but for me, it’s just part of life, making mistakes, living, learning from them.
“I view myself as a leader. It’s funny that people think I’m going to come in and I’m just some kid on a playground that’s going to disrupt everything. That’s just not the case. … I’m an experienced guy coming in, I’m looking to add to the group in a positive way.”
Asked what he’s learned from his experiences, he replied, “We don’t have enough time to talk about all the things I’ve learned today, my goodness.”
Holland also faced a few questions about signing a player with an off-ice reputation, but said he didn’t do any soul-searching. Instead, he spoke to many people who had crossed paths with Kane in the past as well as the Oilers’ leadership group and others with the team. Holland talked up Kane’s size, strength, ability to fight and goal-scoring ability as reasons he was signed.
“My message to the fans would be that I’ve done my due diligence, I’ve talked to a lot of people,” said Holland, in his third year as GM with the club. “We’re trying to win, we’re trying to be a more competitive team, it’s a move made to make our team better.”
Kane encouraged fans to keep an open mind and see what he brought to the table.
“For me, I know I can bring obviously some more scoring, a physical presence,” said the six-foot-two, 210-pound left-shooting winger. “I like to play with an edge and a bit of a mean streak, bring a different identity … to this group.”
He was clearly motived by the chance to play with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
“The more conversations we had, and the further the process continued, it just became more and more evident that this was the best fit for me, and it was a great fit for both sides,” the Vancouver native said. “I’m really excited to be here.”
Kane will fly out with the team to Montreal and is slated to make his NHL season debut in Saturday against the Canadiens.
Kane had 22 goals and 22 assists for 44 points in 56 games last season for the San Jose Sharks. Kane also has played for the Atlanta/Winnipeg franchise and Buffalo since being drafted by the Thrashers fourth overall in 2009. In five games with the AHL’s San Jose Barracuda this season, Kane had two goals and six assists for eight points.
The Oilers signed Kane to a one-year deal on Thursday, hours after the NHL said its investigation into whether or not the embattled forward had breached COVID-19 protocol produced “insufficient evidence” to determine a violation knowingly occurred.
Terms of the agreement were not disclosed by the club, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that the contract would be worth $750,000 in salary and $625,000 in signing bonus, which means a cap hit of about $2.1 million. Friedman added that the contract has a full no-movement clause.
The NHL said its probe into whether or not Kane breached COVID-19 protocol during cross-border travel found “insufficient evidence” to conclusively determine he knowingly misrepresented his “COVID-19 status or test results in connection with international travel.”
That investigation centred on Kane testing positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21 and then flying to Vancouver on Dec. 29. At that time, Kane would have still been in the 10-day AHL COVID-19 protocol. When the Sharks terminated Kane’s contract on Jan. 9, they said it was for “breach of his Standard Player Contract” and “violation of the AHL COVID-19 protocols.”
The NHL initially supported the Sharks’ move, saying it was “satisfied the club has sufficient grounds to effectuate a termination.” After his contract was terminated by the Sharks, the NHLPA filed a grievance on Kane’s behalf. It was not immediately clear how the NHL’s investigation into the cross-border travel situation would impact the grievance.
Before the season began, Kane was suspended for 21 games for the use of a fake COVID-19 vaccination card. When he was eligible to return, he joined the Barracuda, where he had eight points in five games.
The COVID-19 protocol-related issues have not been the only incidents in a controversy-laden stretch for Kane.
The NHL also investigated allegations of domestic assault made by Anna Kane, his estranged wife, in a divorce filing, ultimately saying they “could not be substantiated.”
Anna Kane also said Evander Kane had bet on NHL games, including ones he played in with the Sharks, influencing their outcomes for his own financial benefit. The NHL’s investigation into those claims did not find evidence he had bet on hockey games.