Evander Kane Set For His Career Changing Season


By Ben Chopping

Over his 5 years as an NHL skater, few players have caused as much controversy as Evander Kane. The Canadian left winger has endured team spats, fan fall-outs and too many injuries to count, but he’s only 24 years old and this season, he has a great opportunity to become the star player that he was projected to be way back in ’09.

Born in Vancouver, Kane played his youth hockey with the Vancouver Giants, under Head Coach Don Hay. When the 2009 draft came around, Evander Kane was ranked 3rd overall but was taken at 4th by the Atlanta thrashers.

Blair McDonald, of the NHL Central scouting, spoke of Kane’s strength and desire to attack:

“When he’s got the puck he’s going to the net and defying people to stop him.”

Giants coach Don Hay also expressed Kane’s extraordinary desire to battle for the win:

“He always wants to make a difference on the ice… A lot of players that age don’t want to be on the ice or in that situation when the game is on the line.”

Once he became a Thrasher, Evander showed his advances in development with 26 points in his first season and then 43 in his second. But, the start of 2011 saw him move from his big city living in Atlanta to the more enclosed Winnipeg, when the Atlanta Thrashers relocated to become the Winnipeg Jets.

His first season as a Jet saw him put up his career best points total (57) and plus minus (+11). He was also only penalised for 53 penalty minutes, which is his career low. Blake Wheeler was the only Jet to seal more points than Kane in that 2011/12 season.

It then seems that he almost became arrogant coming off of the back of his great 57 point season. 2012/13 saw the NHL Lockout take place, forcing Kane to find somewhere new to play his hockey for a large chunk of the season.

He decided to become the first ever Canadian NHL player to move to the Russian KHL. After 12 games, and 1 point, with Dinamo Minsk, they mutually cancelled his contract.

Upon his NHL return he managed to acquire 80 penalty minutes in just 48 games (living up to the man he was named after, Evander Holyfield) but, he also managed to secure 33 points.

As it was somewhat of an enigma season, due to the lockout, his foul-happy play was overlooked and his performance in the previous season was used as reasoning to grant him a new 6 year, $31.5 million deal.

He never did regain his 11/12 form, only securing 41 points in 2013/14 and 22 in last years campaign but, that was cut short by his shoulder surgery.

What happened to Evander at the end of the 11/12 season to cause such a decline? There was of course the regular injury problems which resulted in him eventually getting shoulder surgery in February this year but the big issues came from his public relations issues.

After being traded to Buffalo, Evander Kane admitted that he didn’t enjoy the pressure of being in a small die-hard hockey community:

“Sometimes things just don’t work. Winnipeg is a very small town, but it’s a big hockey market.”


“It’s a little tougher than a Vancouver or a Toronto, where you can maybe get away a little bit. It’s a fishbowl.”


Being a Winnipeg Jet was something that everybody knew who you were. They always wanted to talk to you, which is great, and that was definitely one of the things you enjoy. But negative things can take a toll a little bit.”

Kane had many run-ins with the fans. One such time was when a group of them held up a sign asking for him to stop leaving restaurants without paying.

Another, where he offended a huge amount of the hockey community, was when he posted the notorious ‘Money Phone’ picture on Twitter. It was deemed to be very offensive at the time as thousands of people had lost their jobs at the time due to the NHL Lockout.

He was also accused of assault, which was eventually dropped due to “insufficient evidence”, and a homophobic tweet which he later apologised for.

His relationship with his team mates at Winnipeg was never very strong; whether it was down to Kane’s dislike of his new home or that he’s just a difficult character, he had many reported issues with staff and fellow players.

February this year saw the end of the winger’s 14/15 campaign and his time as a Jet. It was heavily reported that, during a workout session, Kane’s team mate Dustin Byfuglien put his clothes in the shower to send a message to the virulent Canadian.

Just two days after the incident with Byfuglien, Kane was put on the Injury Reserve, and a day later he underwent surgery. 5 days after his shoulder surgery, he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres, along with Zach Bogosian and the rights to Jason Kasdorf. In return, Winnipeg received a first round pick, two prospects (Lemieux and Armia), big defenseman Tyler Myers and, Drew Stafford.

Evander Kane has since claimed that “maybe it was overdue”, but now he has a chance to kick start his career that has so much potential.

His new club, the Buffalo Sabres, have undergone a massive overhaul of personnel since their very poor campaign last year, where they only claimed 54 points.

Buffalo have brought in 13 new players, many of which will be in the first team next season. They acquired talented keeper Robin Lehner from Ottawa as a stable replacement for the two great keepers that they traded away last season (Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth) or their star man Ryan Miller, who was allowed to depart at the end of the season before last.

Only 7 players left the Sabres roster, some of which were highly rated youngsters by the likes of Zadorov and Grigorenko. But, the quickest way to improve the team is to trade away the currently weaker players, even though the trade may come back to haunt them one day.

Evander Kane will be a core member of the new look Sabres side, but he is familiar with at least one of their star players. He and Tyler Ennis played in the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championship together.

The left winger will be in a similar position to most of the players in the roster; they’re at a new club, where the only way is up. They’ll need time to gel, but there’s much more quality in their ranks this season so should surpass their 54 points of last year.

Despite only being 24, Kane will be considered as one of the more senior players in the side. The side is predicted to be packed with talented prospects like: Reinhart, Girgensons, Larsson and, Ristolainen.

Often having his maturity challenged, Kane will inherit a more grown-up role in the team which will help him stay focused and work on his game.

It could also transpire into more penalty minutes with him standing up for his younger and less physical team mates, as we all know, he loves to put a good hit on, and he’s not afraid of the penalty box.

Another huge boost for Kane is that Buffalo hired a new head coach. Ted Nolan is a good coach but wasn’t quite ready to take on a struggling team in the National League. Their new boss, Dan Bylsma is much better suited to the NHL

In Bylsma’s first 6 years as an NHL head coach, he took the Penguins to the playoffs in all 6 seasons and won the Stanley Cup with them in his first year in charge. Now, he’s not going to be able to do this with Buffalo, but he does have the managerial skills to take them up from the bottom of the table. They’ll definitely exceed the 54 point mark set by last season’s campaign.

After Evander’s successful surgery, to repair a torn labrum, he claims that he is fit and ready for action:

“The surgery was a little bit more complicated in terms of what it was. There was a hole actually in my shoulder as well. But everything’s fixed.”


I’m not concerned. It’s not going to change my game. I’m not going to second-guess going into a corner, taking a hit.”

He’s ready to have a big season, it’s long overdue but he’s fit, and hungry for success. Kane’s new team responsibilities, new team and new city, will all bolster him back to the great player that he was developing into.

Evander Kane, and Buffalo, will most likely have a slow start but, once they’ve found a bit of rhythm good results will come their way; and Mr. Money Phone could easily secure a 50 point season, if he can stay injury free.

The Buffalo Sabres commence the new campaign with three home games. The first sees them host the Ottawa Senators on 8th October. Kane will travel to Winnipeg as a Sabre on the 10th of January.

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Under the Radar (Eastern Conference Edition)


By Robert Mowatt

With just under a thousand players featuring in the NHL last season, it’s pretty much impossible to keep track of all the truly great talent on display. What might be household names to fans of one franchise, can be relative unknowns to the rest of us.

Below are five Eastern Conference players that may be making a bigger splash than you think come October.

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Report: Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane Under Investigation


The Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is reportedly under police investigation in Hamburg, Buffalo, where he owns a home. Although not much is known as of now, according to sources, the Blackhawks star is the subject of an alleged rape case. So far, no charges have been filed against him.

The Buffalo News’ Tim Graham broke the news with these tweets:

The 26-year-old three-time Stanley Cup Champion, unfortunately, is no stranger to breaking the law. According to the report, he and his cousin, James M. Kane were arrested for assaulting a cab driver following a fare dispute in August of ’09. They pleaded guilty to a noncriminal charge of a disorderly conduct and were forced to write an apology letter to the driver.

The NHL has confirmed to Time Warner Cable News in Buffalo that it is aware of the investigation. It’ll be interesting to see how the League handles this. This latest reported incident is one of a few for NHL players recently. Early last month, LA Kings’ defenseman Slava Voynov was charged in a domestic violence incident with his wife and pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor count. The League and Kings organization, of course, suspended him before the trial began.

Kings’ forward Jarret Stoll had a run-in with the law as well with a felony drug possession charge (you can read the updated story here), and the most recent one prior to this latest alleged incident with Kane involved former Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’ Reilly, who was traded during the 2015 NHL Draft. Not long after that, he drunkenly crashed his vintage van into a Tim Horton’s near London, Ontario and fled the scene. O’ Reilly is scheduled to appear in court on August 20th for DUI charges.

If these rape allegations against Patrick Kane are true, that won’t bode well for him and his reputation. Keep checking back here at Ice Nation UK for updates on this case.

UPDATE: As I’m just about to post this, Buffalo News is reporting that a local woman has accused Kane of sexual assault. Law enforcement sources have said that the woman went to a hospital and tests using a rape kit were performed. At least one other local police agency has asked to assist with the investigation.

Follow Felix Chow on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


Inside the CHL: The Past, Present and Future of European Hockey’s Top League


On August 21st, 2014, a new era of European hockey was born when the Champions Hockey League dropped the puck on its inaugural season. What followed was five months of intense competition, thrilling playoff games, and a fantastic final between Lulea Hockey and Frolunda HC that was only fitting for the first iteration of the premier pan-European hockey league.

Now, the second CHL season is about to begin, and the league is set to improve even more, and evolve to meet the needs of their clubs, and fans.

Szymon Szemberg, COO and Communication Director of the CHL, spoke exclusively with INUK, and gave some insights into the way the league thinks, how they are approaching this season, and what the future could hold for the CHL.

For this season, the league added four new teams, and changed the group format from 11 groups of four teams to 16 groups of three teams. Szemberg said that this change was made to make the group stage games more meaningful, and get to the playoffs faster, further adding:

We got pretty quick feedback from our clubs than in the four-team groups we had last season, the last two game days, five and six, were a difficult sell, because most of the playoff spots were already decided. With this change to groups of three, we think that the excitement will remain to the end, because two teams out of three will qualify for the playoffs, so the last games will probably be of consequence no matter what. We think this will be better for the clubs and fans.

Aside from the group stage changes, a behind-the-scenes change that could make every game more exciting is a “prize money per point” incentive for teams. Each team will receive 1000 euro for every standings point they earn. So, if a team wins in regulation, they will receive 3000 euro for the three points they earned. This incentive could push teams to battle hard, even if they are mathematically eliminated. Even just stretching a game to overtime earns teams more money. Szemberg said this change will especially benefit the “Wild Card teams,” the ones from smaller leagues like in the U.K, France, and Denmark, who will likely be hungry just to get a victory.

When it comes to television coverage, not much will likely change from last year. Szemberg praised Premier Sports’ coverage of the CHL in the United Kingdom, as well as noting that the CHL is televised in every single country with participating teams. They are also adding the Polish state television network, Telewizja Polska (TVP), even though Poland doesn’t yet have a CHL team.

Poland is an incredibly important market in Europe nowadays. Even though their hockey is not at top quality yet, the interest in hockey in Poland is enormous. For example, with the IIHF World Championship, Poland is always among the countries with the best viewership, even though they don’t have a team in the top flight.

– Szemberg on the hockey market in Poland

The biggest European market that is not currently involved in the CHL is Russia. Szemberg spoke candidly about the CHL’s frustration with not having Kontinental Hockey League participation in the pan-European league.

Unfortunately, as long as Russian clubs do not participate in the CHL, hockey is the only European club sport where you don’t have all of the top leagues competing together, unlike sports like football. It’s a pity. In the UEFA Champions League, if you didn’t have Spain, Germany, or England, people would ask, ‘Why’s that?’ Obviously, we are hurting because we do not have Russian teams, and everybody who knows hockey knows that Russia is one of the prime nations in the game. The prestige and the quality of CHL would increase with Russian teams.

– Szemberg on the KHL not particpating in the pan-European League

Szemberg said that in the initial planning of the CHL, Russian representatives were an integral part of the process. However, when it came down to final planning and club participation, the KHL bowed out. Since then, the CHL has met with KHL representatives about participation, but nothing has happened. Szemberg believes that the KHL will eventually join the CHL, but he just doesn’t know when that will happen. He also explained their reluctance to join the CHL by explaining their self-image.

When they founded the KHL, they copied the NHL template in everything they do. They modeled this league after the NHL, including their vision of themselves as the top professional hockey league in Europe, like the NHL is the top flight in North America. If their teams participated in the Champions Hockey League, they would have to give up that position as the best league in Europe. They are not quite ready to do so.

– Szemberg on the KHL’s reluctance to join the CHL

He also noted that Russian participation in the CHL would help young European players, and maybe convince them to spend their time developing in Europe, rather than North America.

If we were to have a CHL that includes all the top countries, including Russia, it would mean a lot for young players. The added prestige of the Champions Hockey League that includes Russia might convince them not to leave for the NHL so early as many players do. We never want to stop any player from leaving for the NHL. It is a dream that many European players have, but they are leaving at 18 or 19 years old when they are not NHL-ready. If they saw a great CHL, they would maybe postpone their NHL signing for a few more years to continue developing until they are ready.

– Szemberg on Russian participation in CHL helping player development in Europe

On British participation in the CHL, Szemberg said he is incredibly happy with the way Britons have embraced pan-European hockey.

The model of the CHL is ‘Where Europe Comes To Play’. We always say that we are an elite league, but we are not elitist, meaning, we fully understand that the quality of British club hockey is not yet on the level of the Swedes and Finns, but we see enormous potential in hockey in the UK. People rally around the British teams and appreciate the fact that their teams will be playing in Europe. Obviously, we are very happy to include Britain.

However, Szemberg said that further expanding British participation in the CHL is unlikely, as the league, as well as the British Elite League, are satisfied with the two teams in the league now. For this season, the league added one more British spot, as well as another French spot.

The next league that the CHL is looking to see more from is Poland. Szemberg said that league officials are prepared to add a Polish club in the coming years, and have extended a provisional wild-card offer to the Polska Liga Hokejowa, the top hockey league in the country. If the CHL sees significant progress in the development of the league and Polish hockey as a whole, they will add the top Polish club to the league.

Another European hockey league that is not in the CHL is the Italian Serie A. Szemberg made it clear that the league is open to adding Italian clubs, and praised the enthusiasm and dedication of those involved in Italian hockey, but was concerned with the fact that the Serie A is concentrated in the Northern alpine areas of Italy, mostly in the Trentino-South Tyrol autonomous region. He was also concerned with the infrastructure and arena quality of the Serie A cities.

As the league continues to grow from its infant stage into the premier European hockey league, they will continue to evolve and improve the quality of the competition. One change that clubs requested at their latest general meetings, according to Szemberg, is an upgraded qualification system, similar to that of the UEFA Champions League in football.

In this proposal, just like in UEFA, every team in the league needs to accomplish something at home in their domestic leagues in order to qualify for European play. We have 26 owning, founding clubs, and they are ‘permanent members.’ We see a future change where you could remain as an owner, but you still need somehow to qualify in order to play in the CHL. So, participation would not come as a ‘gimme’ for anyone.

– Szemberg on the proposal to improve the CHL.

The CHL has nowhere to go but up, and the people involved are not afraid to take a few losses in the early going to be more successful later on.

Our goal isn’t necessarily to make a profit at first. It is to create a demand for the Champions Hockey League.

Follow Cutler Klein on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


NHL Officially Announces 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic


It’s official. The National Hockey League announced on Wednesday the match-up for the 2016 Bridgestone Winter Classic. The annual New Years Day game day will feature two of the oldest rivals in the League in the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium, the home of the NFL’s New England Patriots. The NHL debuted the annual event in the ’07-’08 season in a game that saw the host team, the Buffalo Sabres, lose against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a shootout at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York.

Representatives from the NHL, Bruins, Canadiens, the New England Patriots, as well as the NHL Players’ Association and Bridgestone gathered together in a press conference at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts to discuss and detail plans for the 2016 Winter Classic. The event will be televised live on NBC, Sportsnet, and TVA Sports at 1 pm ET.

The Bruins will become the first team to host the NHL Winter Classic twice, having already done so once in at the 2010 Winter Classic at Fenway Park, defeating the Philadelphia Flyers in overtime. The Montreal Canadiens will also become just the second Canadian team to play in a Winter Classic since the Toronto Maple Leafs did so in 2014.

In addition, a special alumni game will be held by legends from both Boston and Montreal clubs on New Years’ Eve.

Canadiens’ owner and CEO, Geoff Molson had this to say:

“The Boston Bruins are one of our oldest rivals and the history between our two clubs is unparalleled. They were our logical opponent for our Centennial game in December 2009, and to make history together once more by returning to hockey’s roots in an outdoor setting is something everyone throughout our organization is greatly anticipating. That the setting for the game will be Gillette Stadium, home to an iconic franchise like the New England Patriots, only adds to what we’re certain will be an incredible and memorable atmosphere for players and fans alike.”

The Bruins and Canadiens have faced off 729 times during the regular season, tied for the most head-to-head meetings by any two teams in NHL history. Their 177 head-to-head playoff games and 34 postseason series also are the most in League history, while their nine head-to-head Game 7’s lead all teams in North American major professional sports, including the MLB, NBA, and NHL.


Follow Felix on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!


2015 DRAFT DAY THREAD: 1st Round Draft Board


The biggest day of the off-season is here at long last!  For fans of teams not in the playoffs (and particularly so for us Edmonton Oiler fans), we have been waiting for two months to reach this point: the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

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2015 NHL Draft Day Preview


As the hype for tomorrow’s NHL Draft at BB&T Center increases, let’s look at what to expect and what we could expect.


There’s no question, tomorrow, that all eyes will be on highly touted prospects Connor McDavid of the Eerie Otters and Jack Eichel of Boston University. McDavid is expected to go to the Edmonton Oilers at first overall, while Eichel is expected to get picked by the Buffalo Sabres at no. 2; both of these teams are currently in a rebuild mode. The rest of the picks are up for grabs, and I think this is going to be probably one of the deepest drafts we’ve seen in a while. While I’m not at expert level yet in mock drafts, you can check out some others, like TSN Analyst Craig Button’s.



There have been a lot of trade speculation all throughout social media on Twitter. Starting with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that has started to undergo some major changes this offseason with the change in coaching staff and management, the next step for them is knowing who to trade and when, and so far Phil Kessel has been the most actively pursued player by other NHL teams, and it’s no surprise.

While Kessel has been questioned, along with captain Dion Phaneuf, for almost everything he’s done in Toronto, you can’t argue against the fact that he can still score lots of goals despite a disappointing 2014-15 campaign. Never Stop Beleafing, a Leafs-based blog managed by @neverstopbeleaf, breaks down the analytics of Kessel’s stats. According to him, Kessel has been a top-20 in all offensive categories in the past four seasons, joining the ranks of superstars Alexander Ovechkin (WSH) and Steven Stamkos (TBL), Corey Perry (ANA), Joe Pavelski (SJS), Max Pacioretty (MTL), John Tavares (NYI), Tyler Seguin (DAL), and Rick Nash (NYR).

Here are the bar charts for how his stats compare to others in goals, assists, and points, courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing.


Top-20 Goal Scorers in 4 Seasons courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing


Top-20 Assists in 4 Seasons courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing


Top-20 Point-Getters in 4 Seasons courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing

As you can see, not bad for a player who’s been constantly scrutinized and tossed around by the Toronto media. You can read more of his analysis on Kessel here.

The goalie situation in Vancouver is another interesting trade rumor. No, it’s not another goalie controversy from the Canucks, but with Ryan Miller staying put in the Vancouver crease teams have inquired about Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, who’s currently with their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets.

For the San Jose Sharks, a team looking to rebound from last season’s mess and get back into the playoff picture, goal tending and defense is a serious issue. With UFA Antti Niemi possibly hitting the free agency market if general manager Doug Wilson doesn’t sign him to an extension, they’ve been among the teams who’ve been kicking tires on New York Rangers back-up goaltender Cam Talbot as well as back-up Rob Lehner of the Ottawa Senators. Also, there have been rumors that DW could pull a blockbuster trade. Whether it’s somehow getting either former Captain Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau to waive their NTCs, or moving d-man/forward hybrid Brent Burns, or whoever else, we don’t know yet.

So far, only one trade has happened today, as the Colorado Avalanche acquired pending UFA Carl Sodoberg (29-65–94) from the Boston Bruins for a sixth round 2016 draft pick.


Team Needs

Whether it’s restocking on draft picks, acquiring more offensive/defensive depth, or goaltending, every team has their own set of needs for either a rebuild or a retooling for playoff contention. With the help of Never Stop Beleafing, here are the lists of needs for each team.



Sharks: Goaltending, defensive depth

Kings: Defensive depth

Ducks: Top-six winger, no. 1 defenseman

Coyotes: Centerman, defenseman

Canucks: Defensive depth



Blackhawks: Defensive depth

Avalanche: Defenseman

Predators: Offensive production, no. 1 center

Blues: Centerman

Jets: No. 1 center



Canadiens: offense, defensive depth

Bruins: Defensive depth, wingers

Senators: Defenseman

Panthers: Defense, wingers

Maple Leafs: Offense, defense, goaltending

Sabres: Offense, defense



Blue Jackets: Defensive depth, wingers

Rangers: Defense

Islanders: Defensive depth

Penguins: 3rd & 4th line forward depth

Flyers: Offense, defensive depth

Devils: Defense

Hurricanes: Defensive depth



Which team will pick who? Who will win at the draft? Who will lose? All those pressing questions will be answered tomorrow at the draft (except for McDavid and Eichel, I don’t think those should have any questioning at all).


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