As the howling trade winds continue to whip up tidal waves of rumour, gossip and bald-faced lies, it occurs to me that there has never been anyone quite like Evander Kane on the jock landscape in River City. No one.
There have been more popular sporting figures (hello, Teemu Selanne and Ken Ploen). There have been more unpopular sporting figures (hello, Joe Mack). There have been those who, at times, seemed larger than life (hello, John Bowie Ferguson and Cal Murphy). But I cannot recall any one person who has split the masses down the middle like the Winnipeg Jets winger.
To say Kane is polarizing is to say Sam Katz likes what he sees in the mirror. Or that Chris Walby likes food.
If he were to star in a western movie, Kane would wear both a white hat and a black hat. Hero to some, villain to others. Citizen Kane could help a blind lady cross the street during rush hour traffic and he'd be saluted as a fine, upstanding young man. He'd also be demonized for not restoring the woman's eye sight.
Controversial? Kane brushes his teeth the wrong way or doesn't recycle his pop cans and they stop the presses. Then some editor slaps a 72-point headline on a story that really isn't a story. He wears controversy like an extra layer of clothing during a Winnipeg winter.
Kane has more advisors than Barack Obama. They're called hockey fans. Or sports writers. Most of them tell him to grow up because he's too young, he has too much money, he has too much fun, and he flaunts it. Oh, one more thing: He doesn't really give a damn what you and I say or think about him. That seems to rankle the rabble. Or at least half of them.
Before he even arrived in Winnipeg, debate raged. He was branded a punk kid because he wanted to wear Jets jersey No. 9. The nerve. Didn't he know that was Bobby Hull's number? Had he no respect for the man who put River City on the shinny map? Shame on him. But then the Golden Jet gave Kane the official okie-dokie to wear No. 9.
"I’ll do my best on and off (the ice) to live up to wearing that number," Kane promised.
So everything was cool...until he had his ears lowered.
Oh, yes, only Evander Kane could get a haircut and read all about it the next day. Sure his lid was different. He had the letters YMCMB (Young Money Cash Money Billionaires) shaved into his noggin. Scorn ensued. Like, what's with the rapper routine, Evander? We don't do that sort of thing in Winnipeg. We like to play with guns and lead the country in crime, but we don't do no rapper crap on our heads. Bottom line: It was just a flipping haircut, people.
And that $650 in unpaid traffic tickets schmozzle? Reliable sources tell me that other people stiff the city every day. Apparently, that's news only if your name is Evander Kane, especially when you've already been accused of dining and dashing and engaging in street scraps outside downtown nightclubs. I can only wonder how grand a scandal it would be if he forgot to return a library book on time.
Let's not forget about Kane's apparent desire to flee to another National Hockey League locale after he had endured his first season in the cold climes of River City. Locals took that to mean he was an uppity punk who thought he was too big for Winnipeg. That his stuff didn't stink. That it was beneath him to perform in such an out-of-the-way hamlet. It didn't matter that Kane never said he wanted out of Dodge. At least not for public consumption. It only mattered that somebody said he said he wanted out of Dodge.
Are we missing any of Kane's supposed trespasses? Oh, yes. How could we overlook the money phone pic from Las Vegas during the NHL lockout of 2012-13? The nerve of this punk to be flaunting his wealth when there are children starving in Africa!
Yup, that sure is quite the rap sheet. He's a dangerous desperado. Where's Elliott Ness when you need him?
They say Darth Skater is more messed up than a teenage boy's bedroom. Could be true. His public feuding with former head coach Claude Noel was a most distasteful bit of business. He won that skirmish. He's already had at least one showdown with current head coach Paul Maurice. He didn't win that skirmish. He won't win the next one, either.
I don't know if Kane will be traded this weekend when the NHL's 30 general managers gather in Philadelphia for the Entry Draft. I will, however, submit this: If he gets his ticket out of town, I bet he'll be smiling.
Can't say I'd blame him.