After a near five-year hiatus, San Jose Sharks forward Evander Kane has finally cleared the air on what went down between himself and fellow Winnipeg Jets teammates prior to his trade to the Buffalo Sabres in early 2015.
Kane, now 28, sat down with Kristine Leahy on FOX’s program Fair Game last week to discuss various parts of his personal and professional life. Amongst the topics of conversation was some clarification on ‘the tracksuit incident’ that ultimately led to the end of the ‘Kane era’ in Manitoba’s capital.
“This ‘tracksuit’ was a made up word,” Kane told Leahy. “There was no tracksuit. I was wearing clothes that didn’t look like this. I was wearing a nice pair of jeans, nice shoes, a nice jacket – it wasn’t a tracksuit. There was an incident with my clothing that transpired and sent me over the edge.”
According to various reports from sources close to the Jets, back on February 2, 2015, a player not currently with the team had enough of Kane’s personal choices and behaviour. That player responded by throwing the forward’s ‘tracksuit’ in the shower for the then 23-year-old Kane to retrieve and wear.
“On game days you have to wear a suit and a dress shirt,” Kane explained. “We had played back-to-back games. Usually when you play back-to-back games you don’t pre-game skate the next day on the road. You usually have a meeting at the hotel. We were in Vancouver, so I had stayed at my parents’ house that night, and then woke up and went to the hotel for the team meeting.”
Kane showed up to practice not dressed in a manner that conformed to his teammates – something that he said was not taken lightly, based on his personal situation.
“When you’re at the hotel, you can come down in a robe if you’d like for the team meeting,” Kane laughed. “So I show up at the hotel and nobody was there. So I asked one of the hotel employees, and they said, ‘oh, they left on the bus’. Left on the bus? We just played last night in Calgary. I thought they must be at the rink, so I drive to the rink so I’m not late, and I show up. We have the meeting, there is no pre-game skate, I do media – so on and so forth, and I find my clothes after I’ve done the meeting and the media, in the shower.”
After admitting he requested a trade at least once a season while playing for the Winnipeg Jets, Kane made it clear that the incident in Vancouver involving his clothing, the shower, his teammates, the team bus and his shoulder injury were the tipping point, which ultimately led to his trade to Buffalo.
“There was no tracksuit.” Kane said. “‘Tracksuit’ was the term that the Canadian media decided to use as the description of the attire I wasn’t wearing because it wasn’t a suit.”
At the time of the incident, Kane had been playing with a separated shoulder and a torn posterior labrum, which he said had been two years in the making.
“Timing is everything,” Kane said. “And that was just the right time for me to get that shoulder surgery. And five days later I was traded, finally… It took me shutting it down, getting surgery on my shoulder, taking care of my body for them to finally pull the trigger and trade me.”
Kane has since returned to Winnipeg multiple times (with both the Buffalo Sabres and San Jose Sharks) following the trade – most notably skating out to the sound of ‘boos’ in his return to Manitoba in early January of 2016. Much to the delight of local fans, Kane stepped onto the ice for pre-game warmups in his return and tripped on a puck, before being the recipient of a hefty Dustin Byfuglien open-ice check midway through the game.
Kane and the San Jose Sharks next play in Winnipeg on February 14. Despite it being the first contest between Kane and the Jets since this interview aired, Kane does not expect there to be any sort of additional ulterior motive from the Jets or their fans other than to focus on hockey during the Valentine’s Day matchup.