Winnipeg's race issue with Evander Kane


In Winnipeg, you can be convicted of a DUI, no sweat. But if you're black and have money, suddenly we have an axe to grind.

You'd think given the coverage he's received in the city over the past couple of days that Winnipeg Jets' forward Evander Kane committed one of the most heinous acts in the history of mankind.

Instead, a picture of Kane talking into what can only be described as a "money phone" has been the reason Winnipeggers are up in arms with the 21-year old Canadian hockey player.

It wasn't long after the photo was posted on Twitter that the backlash reared its ugly head. Comments towards Kane painting him as the scum of the earth flowed venomously, they as ill-placed and ironic as what Tweeters claimed to be his greatest transgression.

And over what? A picture?

Spare me.

It's not like Kane got intoxicated at a night club, hopped behind the wheel of his slick BMW and put pedal to the floor, damn the consequences -- hello Ondrej Pavelec! And so, there I sat, jaw dropped in bewildered amazement, contemplating how the Winnipeg Sun and Winnipeg Free Press could make so much fuss over what should have been a non-story.

Look, I'd expect this kind of coverage had Kane scored the Game 7 overtime winner to seal the Jets' first Stanley Cup. Instead, we were treated to 800-word diatribes that beleaguered him to the point of worthlessness because he likes to mix cash and cameras.

Don't try to act as though Kane wasn't reminding us of something we already knew, something that we had tucked away deep in our subconscious: that he is a young, rich black hockey player, as if there were anything wrong with that.

"He shouldn't be posting that kind of stuff during an NHL lockout!", they say.


How does Evander Kane being photographed with two stacks of high society affect fans in the slightest? Here's the short answer for you whiz kids: it doesn't.

"He's not being a good role model", they protest further.

I'm sorry, I must have missed the proceeding image of Evander snorting cocaine off the bare breasts of a Las Vegas escort. You mean to say that it's wrong to show kids that if they work really hard at attaining a certain goal, it could be -- gasp! -- rewarding?!

Get real.

Now, if you're a member of the NHLPA, a group of hockey players who have spent the past four months crying poor, then maybe you have a bone to pick. But when Joe Sportsfan feigns that he's even the slightest bit upset for the well-being of Steven Stamkos and Sidney Crosby -- two players currently raking in schmills from endorsements -- well, it's downright laughable.

It seems to be a growing trend here in Winnipeg to slag on Kane and pay it no mind. He's been labeled a coach killer, a party animal and an off-ice agitator in the papers, despite there being no proof that actually validates the claims. Readers are left to fill in the blanks left behind by the cathartic meanderings of sports journo's whilst they continually drink from the trough and carry forward the gospel, such minions they are.

In the 21st century, hearsay are as good as fact.

Remember that restaurant bill Kane skipped out on? Or the name of the bar he got knocked out in? Of course you don't. That's because it changes each and every time the story is told. The amount of "I heard from my brothers, girlfriends, uncle" telephone being played regarding Kane's personal life has reached purple monkey dishwasher levels.

And the fact it keeps coming back to Evander Kane might have something to do with his race.

Oh sure, we're not racist. I mean, like anyone would ever freely admit to such a thing. I guess maybe it's a sore subject. But since arriving in Winnipeg, the treatment Kane has been allotted has been less than fair and unbiased, and it has had a trickle down effect from media members to the fans who support the team.

The focal point of contention with Kane revolves around stipulated rumor rather than any evidenced fact. I won't tell you how to live your lives, but I was raised to abide by the mantra innocent until proven guilty. Yet here comes the local media performing their bi-weekly rendition of vindictive ambulance chasing with each passing Kane scandal. Here is a list of disparaging articles penned over the past year:

Each story was uncovered by performing the most basic of lazy Google search requests, so I'm sure there are more out there.

Some might contend the negative press has a way of catching up with Evander Kane as though it symbolizes the lifestyle he lives. The counterpoint to that argument would be how Ondrej Pavelec walked away with barely a scathing remark after blowing a 0.18 BAC upon smashing his car in a May 2012 DUI.

Do you want to know what the Winnipeg Free Press wrote of Pavelec after he was sentenced with DUI felony charges? Apparently the team needs to sit down and discuss the matter upon his return to Winnipeg. Not to be outdone, the Winnipeg Sun chimed in with a matter-of-fact piece on the incidents' occurrence. Ed. Note: Paul Friesen did complete this follow up article, chastising Pavelec's withholding of the truth.

Are you kidding me!?

If your mind is reeling as much as mine is, let me try to slow down the tempo for our collective sake. Evander Kane took a picture with approximately $200,000-large of his own cash and suddenly, there are FIVE stories covering it in our local scribes. Ondrej Pavelec's DUI? Meh, he said he was sorry. Sufficient enough!

I'd hate to think how the coverage would have been handled had Kane received the DUI charges.

The treatment of Dustin Byfuglien -- another black star on this team -- has given us a more cause for concern. Is there anyone else the Jets should trade, or just those of African decent?

And if you need any more proof that this is a real issue worthy of discussion, then take it from the mouth of Evander himself in a story published by Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press:

"It's funny to me how I throw something out there as a joke and then I get all these tweets, many of them which I don't pay much attention to, which are racist. It's funny to me, if that person is so much more classy or responsible than you, they wouldn't say that. I've never made any comments towards anybody in a negative way."

"It is what it is. It's not the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last."

It's staggering to me that Twitter was able to poke fun at a DUI charge yet fun photograph featuring a black guy with money is a little too sensitive in nature. And that we essentially cornered Kane into a forced explanation that he was memeing Floyd Mayweather with money he rightfully earned is downright sad.

We keep chastising Kane for his need to alter his lifestyle to fit our expectations. Well, maybe it's those perceptions that need to change rather than Kane.

In any event, these perceptions tells me a lot about the city I call home.

That's racist, bro.

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