By Gary Norris Gray, Staff Reporter
OAKLAND — After emerging from hockey exile in Buffalo, Evander Frank Kane has matured into one of National Hockey League’s power forwards and now plays for the San Jose Sharks.
Last year, he led the Sharks in the first round of the playoffs against the Anaheim Ducks. He is the highest Black player ever drafted in the NHL Entry Draft as he went fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009. That year, he scored 14 goals 12 assists in 66 games as a rookie, 12th (30 total) among other rookies.
Number nine is the scorer and enforcer the San Jose Sharks have been looking for. Last year, only the Cinderella Vegas Golden Knights could stop the San Jose’s Bay Area Men of Teal with new teammate Kane.
Mr. Kane is the new prototype hockey player, with the grit of Philadelphia’s Wayne Simmonds, and the strength of Winnipeg’s Dustin Byfuglien, the size of Vegas Knight Ryan Reaves, and the shooting abilities of Nashville’s P.K. Subban. The San Jose Sharks were searching for a scoring enforcer. Maybe they found him in Evander Kane.
In 2017, the left winger got off to a fantastic start with 12 goals and 8 assists in 3 months with the Buffalo Sabres This was the best start of his NHL career. He seemed to have been the only one in blue and gold that could find the back of the net in Buffalo.
The Sabres had kept sinking in the Eastern Conference and something had to be done and Buffalo thought it was Kane.
Kane was born in Vancouver, Canada in 1991 coming from a sports family he knew he had to follow. His father was a boxer and his mother a college and professional volleyball star.
His scoring skills on the ice first appeared when he was 14 years old. That year, he scored 140 points in 66 games in the bantam league. He continued in the minor league hockey with the Vancouver Thunderbirds.
Kane kept growing and receiving calls from the Vancouver Giants at the World Junior Championship. He would use his large body in the corners to muscle out smaller players to get the puck and the Vancouver organization loved that.
In 2009, number nine was selected fourth overall in the NHL draft by the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets). The number of injuries throughout the years hampered this budding star but when he is on the ice he always found a way to score.
In 2010 Kane started a new health regiment to get his lower body in shape. He realized that his legs were his meal ticket to stardom. Once that happened the forward began to score in Winnipeg.
In 2012-12 during the NHL strike, he went to the Kontinental Hockey League playing for the Dinamo Minsk in Russia. But could not adapt to the Russian lifestyle, hockey styles, or the pressure of being the first Canadian to sign with the KHL.
In 2015, The Jets hired a new head coach Paul Maurice and he and Kane just could not get along plus the fact that the Jets were heading in another direction with a smaller line.
Kane did not like the fact that the organization moved from Atlanta, Georgia to Winnipeg, Canada. Atlanta was forming a Black hockey fan base with the Black Thrasher players on the ice.
Kane enjoyed seeing young African-Americans in the stands in the American south watching the game of hockey. Also, the fact that the Thrashers had four Black players on the ice made it easy for Kane.
However, the Jets traded Kane along with Zach Bogosian and Jason Kasdorf to Buffalo in exchange for Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brenden Lemieux and a first-round pick. The Jets traded offense for defense.
The trade was lopsided and the Winnipeg Jets won this trade by a wide margin. The Sabres continued to struggle after the trade because they could not score, even with the addition of Kane. Teams would box number nine so he would become a non-factor
In 2015, the Jets wanted to exile Kane to the outer limits of hockey, Buffalo, under the guise of wanting defense. He was traded to the Buffalo Sabres to bolster their offense, it did not work.
Then the administration wanted to dump salaries. Kane and many hockey historians stated that Kane had been sent to Buffalo to make him and his offensive talents disappear. It did not happen; he became a better player learning the art of scoring.
He would prove this on his first day in San Jose with two assists in 5-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers and two weeks later pulled a hat-trick (3-goals) in a 7-4 victory over the Calgary Flames.
Evander Kane has finally found a home in the South Bay of Northern California.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian, Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston, Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network, Disabled Community Activist. Email Glcgray@gmail.com
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