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Monday, December 6, 2021

Evander Kane’s suspension nears end, but immediate withdrawal ‘not realistic,’ per Sharks coach

SAN JOSE — The Sharks have only a few more days to decide or announce — how they want to handle Evander Kane’s potential return to the organization after his 21-game suspension ends.

According to Sharks coach Bob Boffner, however, adding Kane back to the lineup immediately is not an option.

Kane did not attend training camp and did not practice with the team throughout the season. Two days after the start of the season, Kane was suspended for violating NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 protocols, extending his time from the team on the ice by more than two months.

Kane’s suspension officially ended after the Sharks played the Blackhawks in Chicago on Saturday, and general manager Doug Wilson gave no indication of how he plans to handle the situation. The Sharks’ next game after Saturday is against the Devils in New Jersey on Monday.

Kane’s immediate play, however, “is not realistic,” Boffner said.

“That’s why players come to camp,” Boufner said Wednesday morning before hosting the Ottawa Senators of the Sharks. “It’s a two-week process where you play preseason games and inter-squad games, you get body contact, you’re pushed around and what’s really going to be the next phase of training.

“As far as I know, it hasn’t happened. So, realistic? No.”

According to the collective bargaining agreement of the NHL and the NHLPA, a player must consent if the club wants him to play with their minor league team to improve conditioning. According to the CBA, no conditioning loan can last more than 14 days.

In 2018, Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals spent 16 games away after his suspension but did not play any AHL games before returning to the NHL.

Wilson was suspended for 20 games by the NHL for an illegal check to head St. Louis forward Oscar Sundvist in a September 2018 preseason game. But Wilson had his suspension reduced to 14 games by an independent arbitrator, and by the time the arbitration process was completed, Wilson had already served 16 games. He immediately returned to the Capitals’ lineup, but had the advantage of at least one training camp.

In January 2019, Austin Watson, then with the Nashville Predators, was suspended indefinitely without pay as part of the NHL’s substance abuse program. Watson, now in his second season with the Senators, did not practice with the team for more than two months as he missed 27 games. He played in two AHL games before returning to Nashville’s lineup in April.

SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – MAY 3: Tomas Hertl (48) of the San Jose Sharks is congratulated by Evander Kane (9) of the San Jose Sharks on his goal against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period at the SAP Center in San Jose, Calif. , Monday, May 3, 2021. (Nhat v. Meyer/Bay Area Newsgroup)

Kane, 30, has never played an AHL game and it is unclear whether he will do so next month.

Barracuda is not scheduled to play again until December 4 in Abbotsford, Ontario, following their game on Saturday. The team is practicing in San Jose from Monday to Thursday next week before departing for British Columbia.

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Beyond his conditioning, however, Kane will have to take his time back and learn the nuances of the Sharks’ system, which has been replaced since the end of last season. Kane’s last NHL game was on May 12 as the Sharks missed the playoffs for the second year in a row.

“There’s no doubt that it will be tough for someone to just jump in and play at a higher level,” Sharks winger Andrew Cogliano said Wednesday morning if Kane plays in the NHL immediately. “An athlete, as a professional, has to make it work and get up to speed very quickly.”

It is likely that the Sharks have explored other options regarding Kane if they no longer want him with the team.

Sportsnet’s Elliot Friedman noted on Toronto radio on Tuesday that he “heard” that the Sharks would be willing to retain some of Kane’s salary to help facilitate a trade.

But a deal could still prove extremely difficult given the size of Kane’s contract, which hits an annual cap of $7 million for three more seasons after this one. There is also the question of whether Kane is a negative presence in the locker room, and whether other teams would be willing to assume that potential risk.

The Sharks could also just pay Kane what he owes and ask him to stay away from the team for the rest of the season and then rethink the situation. Or, they could have put him at a discount. In this case, if he is not claimed by any other team, he will be assigned to Barracuda.

World Nation News Deskhttps://www.worldnationnews.com
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