The last thing the Sharks wanted to do on Tuesday was consider the future of Evander Kane with the organization.
Kane was suspended 21 games by the NHL on Monday for violating COVID-19 protocols by submitting a fake vaccine card. The Sharks forward, whose contract expires after the 2024-25 season and carries a $7 million cap hit, will lose nearly $1.7 million in salary and cannot return to the team before Nov. 30.
Sharks players and head coach Bob Boughner were asked about Kane’s suspension and future with the team, but they all wanted to keep the focus on those currently in the room and their play on the ice.
“We’re all disappointed in how he handled that. The organization is disappointed. It’s something that’s happened, we can’t change it. We gotta move on,” Boughner said. “We do have a pretty strong leadership group in there. We knew something was coming down the line and we knew investigations were going on and we’ve just chosen to, as a group, to put that out of our radar and we just have so much work to do here.”
“Obviously disappointing, but out of my control out of our control in the dressing room. It’s an individual decision so nothing we can do,” said team captain Logan Couture.
Couture added he has not talked to Kane since the news of the suspension and was not aware of any Sharks player who had reached out to him.
Kane was the Sharks’ leading scorer last season with 22 goals and 49 points, but he was subject of two separate investigations this offseason involving allegations that he bet on his own team’s games and committed domestic assault on his estranged wife, Anna Kane.
The NHL could not substantiate the domestic assault claim and found no evidence Kane bet on games.
Cap hit comes off
While he’s suspended, Kane’s $7 million cap hit will come off the Sharks’ books. Despite his off-ice issues, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported there has been no effort to look into terminating his deal.
“We’ve got a while to deal with this,” Boughner said. “I think this is going to be a decision that is first made by management and ownership. After that, I think it trickles down. We haven’t even brought that up.”
Kane released a statement after the suspension news apologizing to his teammates, the Sharks organization and Sharks fans for his actions. He said he will get counseling and plans “to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”
How would Evander Kane be received if he ends up returning to the team at the beginning of December? That remains to be seen.
“He put himself in this situation,” said defenseman Marc-Edouard, via Simon-O Lorange. “He has personal stuff to handle. On our side, we’ll concentrate on hockey.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.