Wild Accusations: Seriously, Evander?

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Evander Kane

Evander Kane:
“I think if you watch me play on the ice I do take hockey seriously.  I think I can take it more seriously and I think going forward you are going to see that out of myself.”

Well, Evander, I’m going to have to disagree with you on that one.

Yes, on the ice, you work hard; but that doesn’t mean you take hockey seriously. Hockey, especially the NHL is more than just working hard on the ice; it’s doing things right off of it as well. Do you have to be a good person to be a good hockey player? Absolutely not—there’s plenty of examples of bad people being good professional athletes—but you do have to take care of your business, part of which, is showing up on time to work.

Coming off Monday’s report that Evander slept in and missed practice, and the announced punishment of a (at least) one game suspension by his team, Kane has come out today (Tuesday) and said all the usual “I’m sorry” statements, but I’m not buying it.

Just so we’re all on the same page, this isn’t the first time Kane has promised better from himself going forward.  Back when he was in Winnipeg, Kane and Dustin Byfuglien had a little run-in, due to inappropriate attire worn by Kane, and that is just one of the bevy of issues Kane had while he was a Jet.

But, as with most talented players, benefit of the doubt was given and a lot of pundits simply said that Kane needed a change of scenery. He didn’t quite fit in, in Winnipeg, and that’s why he was having issues. Maybe he didn’t like the area, maybe he didn’t like the Coach, maybe he didn’t like the organization, maybe it was something else, but whatever the reason, a change of scenery was all Kane needed to get him on the right path.

Well, the change of scenery came via a trade to Buffalo and here we are yet again with Kane trying to convince people that he takes Hockey seriously.

Now, I think Kane is a really good player. So good that I’d even be willing to give him another chance with another change of scenery; and don’t kid yourself, plenty of organizations would do the same. So that’s not really what this is about. I don’t want to sit here and write that Kane needs to go; Buffalo needs to jettison him or else. I’m basically just ticked that he keeps trying to say that he takes Hockey seriously.

No you don’t, Evander. Either did Alex Semin. Either did Alexi Kovalev. Just the same as countless other players who had long careers. Not everyone who plays in the NHL cares about Hockey. It’s their job. They show up to play, work hard while they play it, go home, and that’s it. The varying degree of career length for all these players depend on how naturally talented they are.

Listen, tons of pro athletes enjoy the lifestyle to the fullest, but the ones that truly care about their sport know that if you want to play hard, you have to work hard. AKA, if you want to go out at night, you best bring your A game the next day.

Michael Jordan played hard: The stories of him being up all night gambling are legendary, but you can bet your behind that when that morning practice rolled around, he was front and center leading the charge.

Just the other day on TSN Radio’s Leafs Lunch, Doug Gilmour admitted to having a night out the night before a game, but he made sure he showed up  to work ready to play, and tallied six assists.

You want to have fun? Fine. But you better also be ready to work. If you can’t do both, which Evander has struggled with, you have to pick which one you care most about. So, when Kane says he takes Hockey seriously, I take issue. Because if he did take Hockey seriously, he might screw up once. But multiple times? C’mon, Evander. Don’t tell me you’re taking your job seriously. You’re not.

And if you don’t want to, that’s your prerogative. There are plenty of people who do their jobs just because they have to, including professional athletes. And those people can be really good at their jobs. Evander Kane is a really good hockey player. I just find it so disingenuous for him to say, “I take the sport seriously.” That’s a slap in the face—and I know he doesn’t intend it to be—to the Nick Lidstroms, the Sidney Crosbys, and the Braden Holtbys of the world who do actually take it seriously.

But, at the end of the day, what else is Kane to say? He’d be ripped to shreds if he came out and said, “Hockey is my job and I showed up late to work. It’s not the end of the world.” But if he did say that, would he not have a point? How many of us have been late for our jobs? Would we find it fair if we got fired after only being late?

Well, that’s the biggest difference between a professional athlete’s job and a regular job; sports aren’t always fair. And you know that when you start playing. And  you also know, when you agree to play a sport, you agree to an unwritten contract about work ethic. It will never be written in an NHL contract that hard work is a necessity; contracts are years and dollars. That’s it. But you know, as an athlete, that hard work is expected. On and off the ice.  And thus far in his career, Evander Kane is failing to live up to the unwritten part of his contract.

But he’ll have plenty of opportunities to try, I know that.

What do you think?