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Evander Kane and Splitting the Oilers Fan Base

In deciding to sign Evander Kane, the Edmonton Oilers have split their fan base into two separate groups

NHL: Edmonton Oilers at Montreal Canadiens Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports

In the department of something everyone could see coming, the Edmonton Oilers decision to sign Evander Kane has left most of its fanbase in one of two groups. There are those who wanted no part of seeing the talented winger make his way to the Alberta capital and those that are 100% behind whatever decision the organization makes and will hear nothing pertaining to issues that arose during his three previous NHL stops or any off ice troubles. Expecting either side to budge is unrealistic but nonetheless, it will be an interesting situation to watch unfold over the coming months.

To his credit, Kane wasted little time in making an impression, potting a goal in his debut during last night’s 7-2 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens. No matter what side of the argument you land on, there is no denying how good of player we are talking about. He is a rare breed in today’s game, a traditional power forward that has scored 264 times in 769 career games. 25-30 goal guys are hard to find and very few can impact games in as many ways as the new Oilers winger.

From an on-ice standpoint, the argument could easily be made that Kane is the perfect fit for Edmonton’s roster. He can score goals, skate, plays a physical game and can make life extremely difficult on opposing teams. In fact, when he parted ways with the Winnipeg jets and Buffalo Sabres, yours truly was the guy screaming from the tress for this organization to bit the bullet and bring him on board. That never came to fruition but one would think I’d be extremely excited with this decision. Not so much.

So what gives?

Well, for me, it’s simple. There are just too many red flags surrounding Kane and that’s setting aside the gambling addiction and bankruptcy issue that followed. In my mind, that is something altogether different. While I have no doubt said addiction impacted his day-to-day existence in many ways, I have a tough time blaming a player who finds themselves in that kind of situation. However, that on its own doesn’t excuse all of Kane’s other missteps along the way.

To start, we have the combination of flaming out with three different organizations and three different sets of teammates. Now, does that mean everything that happened was on the Vancouver native? Of course not but there was a constant in all three situations and that in itself speaks volumes. Second, at the age of thirty and in the midst of a pandemic, to make the decision to seek out and submit a fake COVID-19 vaccination card is jaw dropping. We are not talking about some kid who didn’t think things through but rather an 11-year vet with a track record.

Lastly, despite not knowing exactly what took place between Kane and his soon-to-be ex-wife Anna, it’s difficult for me to simply write-off all her allegations as nothing more than a separation being played out in a public manner between two unhappy parties. There have already been those suggesting Kane has being exonerated through the court’s decision to grant him “full-time temporary” custody of their one-year old daughter but you can find many women who can relate to going through something similar who will tell you there is more here than we know. How many red flags are we at?

Not surprisingly, the signing has led to many an Oilers fan voicing their displeasure with the club’s decision to ink the fourth overall selection in 2009 NHL Entry Draft for the remainder of the 2021-22 campaign and it’s easy to understand why. Through the eyes of some, what happen on the ice is all that matters and everything else becomes secondary to winning. For others, winning is still the goal but turning a blind-eye to everything else makes them feel uncomfortable. It really is that simple and nothing is going to change that in the short-term.

I will say this, after listening to Kane speak during the Oilers presser to officially announce his signing and his sit down interview with TSN’S Kayla Grey, I didn’t hear an individual taking much ownership for what has occurred over the past many years. Obviously, there are certain things he cannot talk about and he did take responsibility for the decision with regards to the fake vaccine card but not much else. Not sure about all of you but I have a problem with that, especially when so many are going on about him deserving another chance.

Well, when it comes to hockey, this is at least chance number three and some would probably view it as actually being number four or five. With that said, how many chances should a player get if at no point there is a reflection period and genuine effort to change? It doesn’t matter if you’re a pro-athlete, bus driver, lawyer or civil servant; the same rules apply. In order for anything to change, the acceptance of one’s role in a situation has to happen or what are even doing?

Do I have any doubt whatsoever that Evander Kane will be on his best behavior for the rest of this season with the Edmonton Oilers and be an impactful piece for this group over the team’s final 42-games and into the playoffs? I do not, as he is a hell of a player and again, has the exact skill-set this roster so badly needs. And yet, I don’t feel great about it and don’t see that changing anytime soon.