By Scott Billeck
Evander Kane made an appearance Monday at the first day of the Winnipeg Jets development camp. Yes, Evander Kane, only four weeks removed from foot surgery to fix a rare nerve issue. At this point you are probably thinking that this isn’t the Evander Kane you know – and you would be right, it’s not.
Last year is one the Winnipeg Jets and Evander Kane would like to forget. There was the tweet with that picture, you know, the one with the stacks of money and the pose. There were contract negotiations, ones that didn’t get solved until September, with rumors swirling of his imminent departure. He was late for training camp when the lockout ended. There were also the ongoing rumors that he wanted out of Winnipeg, citing strained relations with the media and various restaurants that were looking for him to pay his tab.
Most of that was forgotten over the 2012-2013 season, people forgot about hockey until the lockout ended, the Jets were in a race for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and like the old saying goes, “time heals all.”
Indeed, time has not only healed – but transformed the the 21-year old.
Kane took to twitter during the Stanley Cup playoffs, stating he was sick of being a spectator, sick of being on the couch and not on the ice. His comments came as a breath of fresh air to some fans who questioned his drive and commitment to Jets, especially after signing a lucrative six-year, $30 million-plus contract.
Times have changed it would seem. While there was an unfavorable tweet towards a Miami Heat player during the NBA Finals, Kane was quick to apologize and make peace to the parties involved. Besides that misstep however, Kane has started to repair his reputation as a young, rich, immature hockey player and he is still just 21.
Kane addressed the media today in between the Group A and Group B skates at the MTS Iceplex. He looked fresh on the ice, he looked healthy and there was little, if any, lingering effects from the surgery four weeks ago.
“I was talking to the players, seeing how they were feeling and helping out where I can,” said Kane of this role on the ice this week.
He talked about close friend Alex Burmistrov, his departure, saying that “Burmi is a great guy, a helluva hockey player, but he made the best decision for him – you can’t be mad at that.” There wasn’t a hint of ill-will in his voice.
He joked around, talking about Scheifele missing him on a few passes, and at one point talked about doing his best Claude Noel impression.
By all accounts, the former Vancouver Giant looked happy, settled, and engaged. He genuinely looked excited to be helping the young prospects out, ones that he could be playing with and along side in the very near future.
He looked committed to the cause – something every Jets fan can appreciate.
Not something you would have said a year ago, but then again, in the words of Bob Dylan the times they are a-changin’.