Apr 5, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger (15) and Winnipeg Jets defenseman Adam Pardy (2) battle for the puck at the Air Canada Centre. Winnipeg defeated Toronto 4-2. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Healthy Scratch A Wake-Up Call For Winnipeg Jets’ Evander Kane

It was one of the last things anyone expected on Saturday night, and the news that Evander Kane would be a healthy scratch in the Winnipeg Jets’ game against the Toronto Maple Leafs sent ripples across the NHL. 
Apr 3, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane (9) skates on the ice prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

Apr 3, 2014; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane (9) skates on the ice prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Penguins at the MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

The move comes just days after it was made public that Kane was being sued by a Vancouver man after an alleged assault in August 2013. Twitter exploded with opinions on the move, and many were not positive:

Paul Maurice deserves one of those $10,000 personnel fines for starting Pavelec and scratching Kane.

— Ian McLaren (@iancmclaren) April 5, 2014

It seemed all was well at practice in Winnipeg on Friday, as well as the morning skate from the Air Canada Center, with no evidence of Kane being limited during those ice times. When the dust had settled, Maurice’s move looked good after all, since the Jets defeated the Leafs 4-2 on Saturday, putting 41 shots on goal that night. However, the comments kept flooding in long after the final horn on TSN Radio, and the water cooler was sure to be a well-visited place in Winnipeg offices the following day.

Stats-wise, the move doesn’t look like a bad one. Kane only has two goals in his past 18 games, and is a -4 in his past three games. Kane has been sidelined with injury three separate times this season, missing 13 games combined. However, Kane undoubtedly brings speed and size to the table for the Jets each game, and his $5.2 million salary means he was paid $63, 414 to sit in the press box on Saturday night.

The move also forced Devin Setoguchi back into the lineup, after he was the go-to healthy scratch in the past week for the team. Setoguchi finished the game with 3 shots in just over 13 minutes of ice time.

Just one day prior, Jets’ head coach Paul Maurice was quoted as saying that the Jets would ice “the best team possible” to keep their integrity down the stretch, despite being eliminated from playoff contention on Thursday night. However, it is quite obvious that the team is much better with Kane in the lineup, production or not.

Before the game was even over, fans turned the conversation to the future for the 22-year old with the club. Trade talk swirls, as many think that a team cannot build around such a controversial young player, and instead should opt for the likes of Mark Scheifele and Jacob Trouba for such an example.

If the benching of Kane directly relates to his off-ice issues, I couldn’t agree more. Even with six days left in the Jets’ season, the club must keep it’s integrity and maintain a level of professionalism that we have come to expect from NHL teams, as well as any other sporting franchise. Kane has been due for a reality check for quite some time, and in a season that has seen his slowest production since his rookie campaign coupled with the off-ice drama he has caused, it may not be such a bad thing.

 

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