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Evander Kane and Lessons from Teams Past

Kyle Lowry of the NBA's Toronto Raptors is a prime example of this phenomena. His underlying numbers were strong, but his attitude was bad. That is, he was hard to work with until Masai Uriji, the GM of the Raptors, sat down and talked with him. The two of them worked together and Lowry rewarded the Raptors handsomely. It worked out for both parties; the Raptors got a great year out of a player and Lowry should be rewarded for his year with a big contract. Lowry finally matured when he was forced to.

How does this concept apply to hockey? Brad Marchand is rumoured to be on the outs in Boston. Winnipeg fans have a contentious relationship with the talented Evander Kane. The immaturity exhibited by these two talented players does not mean that they should be traded; instead it means that the organizations should work with them more off the ice, ensuring that they keep these talented players in the fold. Will the Bruins or the Jets get fairly compensated for trading a young player due to perceived attitude problems? Probably not.

One of the best examples of a team giving up on a young player because of attitude is the Calgary Flames and Marc Savard. Savard was drafted by the New York Rangers and then traded after his first full year to the Calgary Flames. Savard put up over a 0.5 PPG average, but because of his attitude was shipped off to Atlanta for Ruslan Zaynullin, who has never played a game in North America. Marc Savard became an all star and was known as a good teammate until he got knocked out of the NHL by Matt Cooke.

Follow up L'affaire Savard with the Chicago Blackhawks and Patrick Kane. Early in his career Kane was said to be a partier who was immature and people suggested that Chicago should trade him because of it. Chicago took door number two and helped Kane mature as a person. Kane remains a Blackhawk and has made a habit of scoring key goals for them. He was seen as a good/great player who had character issues for the longest time. He is now a star who has no such problems with the Blackhawks.

Evander Kane is no star. He may never be as good as Marc Savard. He may be more of a Kyle Lowry; someone who plays well in spurts until he finally figures it all out. He should be allowed to figure it all out in Winnipeg. The clamour to trade a good player because they are not fully mature as humans is stupid. Would it be ideal that every player is mature before they enter the league? Yes, it would. Ideal isn’t reality though and the thought that players will mature at the same rate is wrong. No one does. For every Sidney Crosby there is a Tyler Seguin. At some point the latter will mature off the ice and he will no longer be seen as a “problem”. That did happen in the case of Seguin THE YEAR AFTER HE WAS TRADED!

There are people who live in their parents basements until 25 playing video games. Growing up is an inexact science that some hockey teams believe is an exact science. If the player is a dime a dozen like Shane O'Brien, then give up on them. Sometimes the work isn't worth the reward. If the player is a player like Marc Savard or Patrick Kane, give them time. Let them mature. The reward could be a Stanley Cup. The consequence? Years of wandering around aimlessly lost, lusting over talents like Tyler Seguin; immature but talented Seguin.

*Thanks to Book of Loob (FlamesNation) and Doogie2K for helping me with the parts on Marc Savard in Calgary.

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