In the wake of yet another Evander Kane story that didn’t involve the actual playing of hockey (this one involved unpaid traffic tickets), Jets coach Claude Noel had a lot of good things to say about his young, star player this weekend.
“I think Evander Kane has come leaps and bounds for me in a lot of ways,” Noel said, per the Winnipeg Free Press. “The focus is always on a lot of things in the off-season, anything to write about. I don’t have any concerns with him. I see a huge change in him.
“I saw it last year. I’ve seen it through the summer. I’ve seen it both on and off the ice and I’ve really liked what I’ve seen. He’s very focused. I think he’s matured. This is part of the process. The problem is we’re under a microscope and that’s a little bit of an adjustment for a young player, a young man. I like a lot of what I’ve seen and I’m very excited to have him play this year. I think he’s got a lot to play for and I certainly know one thing, he wants to have success.”
Kane, 22, finished third in Jets scoring last year, with 17 goals and 16 assists in 48 games. In June, he had surgery on his left foot to remove pressure from a nerve,
Noel would certainly like to be right about Kane’s hunger for success. The Jets spent a lot of money this summer. Missing the playoffs again may not be an option if the coach wants to keep his job.
It’s going to be interesting to see if Hammond can replicate the success he had last season, when he came out of nowhere to go 20-1-2 with a 1.79 GAA and .941 save percentage, and finish seventh in Vezina voting.