Why would Evander Kane want to play in Winnipeg?

Bruce Bennett

Playing in a city that judges him for his every move, it shouldn't come as a surprise to no one if and when Evander Kane asks to be traded out of town.

I'm afraid the Kane scrutiny will never end. Not as long as Evander Kane wears Winnipeg Jets linen, it won't.

That's why at some point Kane will walk into general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff's office and say, "You have to get me out of this hell. I can't take it anymore."

He might already be there emotionally.

Kane and Winnipeg, you see, are not a happy marriage.

A large portion of the fan base have not warmed to Kane. I doubt they ever will. It matters not how productive he is on the ice. Judging by the fierce, intense reaction to his posting of playful pics from Vegas and previous perceptions of the 21-year-old left winger, it's painfully apparent that Kane is going to get crapped on from high heights if he so much as picks his nose in public.

In the most simplistic terms, fans just don't like him.

Local news scavengers, meanwhile, never avoid an opportunity to slice and dice Kane.

Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press is the leader of the Poison Pen Posse. He describes Kane as "a distraction the Jets will eventually determine is tiresome," and the day will arrive when the Jets "will want to run."

Well, you don't have to be Nostradamus to predict that Kane no longer will be wearing a Jets jersey one day. That's like saying there'll be snow in Winnipeg in January. The fact is, the vast majority of players do not go wire-to-wire with their original outfits. Of the top 30 scorers in NHL history, only four started and finished with his original club—Steve Yzerman, Mario Lemieux, Joe Sakic and Stan Mikita.

So, yes, Kane will be moved. It might be the day after Gary Bettman and Donald Fehr kiss and make up. It might be a day before the next NHL lockout. But I say Kane wants out of Dodge before the Jets/fans/media run him out.

Who could blame him?

I mean, not since former Blue Bombers quarterback Dieter Brock made a flippant, harmless comment about the Assiniboine Park zoo has a River City jock been subjected to such scorn for doing or saying something so inoffensive away from the playing surface. Something that doesn't impact on anyone else's life. Fans and media rag on Kane for supposedly dining and dashing, for silly Twitter tweets, for supposedly getting into barroom brawls and now for posting goof-off pics from Vegas.

If there's been one constant since this National Hockey League franchise moved to River City from Atlanta, it has been Kane-bashing.

So, what is Kane supposed to think? Try this: "I'm 21, the fans hate me, the media hates me...is this what my life's going to be like for the next 15 years? Well, no thanks, I'll pass."

I'll tell you what and who this reminds me of: The Toronto Maple Leafs, Humpty Harold Ballard and Laurie Boschman.

You might recall that Boschman was a highly regarded talent when he graduated from the Brandon Wheat Kings. So impressed were the Leafs, they plucked him ninth overall in the 1979 Entry Draft. His first two seasons were unremarkable, and he struggled mightily in 1981-82. That's when Ballard, the Leafs' bankroll, began to blow hard, threatending to dispatch Boschman to the minors.

Humpty Harold, of course, was always harrumphing about something. One day it would be "commies" and the next it would be women being good for just one thing: "Lying on their backs."

In Boschman's case, it was the Bible. Yes, being a born-again Christian was a sin in Ballard's little mind. Boschman had "too much religion" and it made him "soft." Big buffoon Ballard conveniently ignored the fact that Boschman had been battling mononucleosis and blood poisoning. The kid was a bible-thumper, period. Many fans bought into Ballard's bluster and, eventually, Boschman had it up to his chin whiskers with the taunting and torment. He asked for a trade and was accomodated. He went to the Edmonton Oilers, then the Jets, where he had a most productive career.

No one in Winnipeg remembers Boschman as a "soft" player. Soft-spoken and sincere away from the freeze, he was a right nasty bit of business once they dropped the puck.

But it was never going to work for him in Toronto.

Same thing with Kane in Winnipeg.

And that's a shame, because Kane is going to be a very good player for a very long time.

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