The issue may have started out with sweat pants, but the circumstances that led to Kane being a healthy scratch for Tuesday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks were significantly darker and more complicated.
As it turns out, Kane reportedly failed to show up for Tuesday’s game following an incident with a variety of teammates including Dustin Byfuglien, according to a report from Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.
This is an ugly situation, to say the least.
Here’s the crux of Johnston’s explosive scoop:
…Multiple sources familiar with the situation have since indicated that Kane was not on the team’s bus to Rogers Arena and then missed a pre-game meeting. Repeated attempts to reach him were unsuccessful until approximately an hour before puck drop, when Kane answered his cellphone and said he wouldn’t be playing against the Canucks that night.
Earlier in the day, the 23-year-old winger is said to have had a run-in with teammates.
Kane wore a track suit when the Jets players gathered that morning — a violation of team policy. Following a brief workout and stretch, Byfuglien is said to have thrown those clothes into the shower to send a message to his teammate, according to sources.
That was the last the Winnipeg players saw of Kane until the team’s charter flight home.
Well then, that’s quite the story.
Obviously there’s a pranking element here, which Kane responded negatively to. We can’t help but recall Jason Strudwick’s story from yesterday about an NHL player who was forced to buy dinner for all of his teammates at a nice restaurant as an informally administered punishment for failing to arrive on-time for a team flight.
For what it’s worth though, his teammates on Thursday seemed unsympathetic.
“There’s a standard that everybody needs to live up to. We’re professionals, we make a lot of money,” Jets winger Blake Wheeler, who admonished Kane this summer, told reporters via CBC’s Jeff Hamilton. “We’re expected to uphold a certain standard.
“That’s the code we live by,” Wheeler continued. “If you don’t like it then there’s other places you can go. This is the way we do things.”
From a purely “that’s the way it works in an NHL locker room” perspective, this incident is perhaps unsurprising. Objectively though, this situation now has the subtext of a hazing or bullying incident.
No matter what you think of Kane, or of what’s occurred here, this is now a story of an entirely different nature. It’s a massive P.R. black-eye for the Jets as an organization and a major league headache that will invite all manner of scrutiny in the days ahead.
On Thursday, Kane was absent from practice for what Paul Maurice described as a doctor’s appointment. It would seem increasingly likely that, one way or another, he’ll never wear a Jets uniform again.
UPDATE: The Jets have placed Kane on injured reserve and have recalled Patrice Cormier from the St. John’s IceCaps. The move is retroactive to February 2nd, according to TSN’s Ryan Rishaug, which means that Kane isn’t eligible to return for a week. He’ll miss at least a couple of games.