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Friday, December 3, 2021

Sharks Boffner on Evander Kane: “There are decisions that need to be made”

SAN JOSE – Evander Kane’s 21-game suspension ends in nine days and coach Bob Boffner has no idea how the Sharks are going to handle the situation.

“I wish I had more information. I don’t, and it’s completely honest,” said Boffner after the Sharks’ 4-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Saturday. “I have no idea. You know, there are decisions that need to be made.”

The Sharks were able to go without Kane for the first few weeks of this season, who was suspended on October 18 for violating the NHL and NHLPA’s COVID-19 protocols by submitting fake vaccine cards.

Kane is eligible to play again on November 30, when the Sharks play in New Jersey, but general manager Doug Wilson has given no indication of how to handle Kane’s potential return to the organization.

It is a puzzle, to say the least.

On one hand, the Sharks could use Kane’s output to satisfy the apparent need for another genuine goal-scoring winger in their forward group. On the other hand, Kane appears to be deeply unpopular with the Sharks’ fan base, after not being favored by his teammates last season.

Kane was not around the team at any point during training camp earlier this fall as the NHL launched two new investigations into the 30-year-old forward’s past behavior. One centered around the possible use of a fake COVID-19 vaccination card, and the other involved allegations of physical and sexual abuse raised by his wife in a court filing in September.

The NHL said it could not confirm the domestic abuse allegations, but found Kane violated the league’s COVID protocol, slapping him with a quarter-season suspension, which cost him his $7 loss for this season. About $1.68 million of the millionth salary had to be spent.

Kane is still owed more than $20 million in the final three-plus years of his contract, which expires after the 2024-25 season.

Without Kane, their leading scorer from last season, the Sharks made a respectable 7-4-1 start. There was real harmony in the locker room as the sharks found success in playing with a certain meat-and-potatoes identity. Everyone was on the same page.

The Sharks still seem to be a unified team, but it’s still impossible to ignore the strength and lack of scoring on the power play.

With Saturday’s shutout, the Sharks have now scored just eight goals in their last five games, including just one in the power play. The Sharks beat the Minnesota Wild 4-1 last Tuesday, but otherwise averaged one goal per game.

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“Aggressively, we have to starve around the net. We have to find a way to score goals,” said Sharks captain Logan Couture. “(One goal) in the last two games and we didn’t really score that many on the road trip So, we have to find a way to score more goals.”

Perhaps the shark’s aggressive struggles shouldn’t come as a big surprise right now.

It always felt like they were at least one scoring winger from being a real contender in the Pacific Division.

Rookie William Eklund was in the top-six forward role for nine of the Sharks’ first 10 games of the season. But starring in the Sharks, which he felt was his top prospect’s best long-term interest, the 19-year-old Eklund was reassigned to the Swedish Hockey League’s Jrgarden on 5 November.

The move was understandable, but it left a significant hole in the Sharks’ top-six forward group, and it looks like the Sharks don’t have another winger who could fit seamlessly in with Tomas Hertl and Alexander Barbanov. Like Kane did last season.

Nick Bonino has no points in 17 games, and other forwards such as Andrew Cogliano, Matt Nieto and Jasper Weatherby have gone without a point in four straight games.

Kevin LaBlanc had gone without a point in three games since coming out of the NHL’s COVID protocol, before serving a one-game suspension on Saturday. Rudolf Balser made two assists in his last six matches.

The Sharks are now ranked 25th in the NHL with 2.59 goals per game. The Sharks’ four-game homestand continues this week, with games against Carolina on Monday, Ottawa on Wednesday and Toronto on Friday.

If the sharks can’t find a way to bury their few more chances, it could be a real downward spiral.

“Good teams, they’re getting some production out of their bottom six, and it’s been a while since we’ve got that,” Boffner said. “It’s something we understand because we can’t depend on the same couple every night.”

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