Jets column: Kane's return to Winnipeg rather quiet
Now that Kane didn't score and Winnipeg lost, we can all turn the page
There were moments worthy of the hype surrounding the return of Evander Kane to Winnipeg but like the main protagonists in Sunday's story, the outcome left many observers wanting more.
The Jets dropped a 4-2 decision to the Buffalo Sabres Sunday afternoon, a disappointing outcome on many levels for those who donned their best leisure suit and made Kane the target of their scorn.
Winnipeg (19-20-3) opens an important stretch of home dates on a sour note, losing to a club on a six-game losing streak and a club that hasn't won in January going back to last season.
Funny that Kane and the Jets collide at this very moment in the schedule. Both seem to still be searching for their games this season.
Kane is the blueprint of a premier NHL power forward. He can skate, he can shoot it, and he's physical. The potential has been talked about for years. He's probably not going to score 50 goals, but you can't pull 40 goals off the table for him just yet — he's still only 24 years old.
He has eight goals this year. See? That's what potential does — it keeps hope alive.
The Jets, meanwhile, can't seem to find what's been missing. Every step forward is followed by another step back and just when they look like they're able to find their way into consistency, something trips them up. There's always something. And the clock continues to tick on the season.
These two are made for each other. Too bad it didn't work out.
Which brings us to Sunday's game.
Despite the outcome, fans had fun dressing up in their track suits — velour and polyester in all colours of the rainbow — and poked fun at the player they loved to hate when he was here. Of course, one could argue the hate has more to do with people's preconceived notions of how a young, rich professional hockey player should act in this social media world and little to do with his effort on the ice, but old ideas of how much personality we want from our hockey stars take time to evolve.
Some of the track suits had money taped to the back. Some were using Monopoly money in place of their iPhone 6. What would the fans of those people say? What would their co-workers say?
Just a guess here: Kane probably loved the track suit movement. Another guess: when Kane fell to the ice after stepping on a puck at the start of the pregame warm up, the big smile on his face suggested he was going to enjoy the day. It almost looked like he took the tumble on purpose, knowing him on the ice would help break the ice.
Would you put it past him?
The game featured a few Kane-centric moments worthy, but by and large it felt like something was left on the table. Maybe it was the final score. Maybe it was the fact no Jets player chased Kane around the ice like a mad man. Dustin Byfuglien, the former teammate who helped make track suits popular in these parts, put a clean open-ice hit on Kane in the second period. That brought a loud cheer.
Every time Kane touched the puck he was booed. The expected chants from the crowd ranged from the unimaginative 'Kane, you suck' to a more thoughtful 'Best Trade Ev-er' — a good save by the fans there.
Kane saved the best moment (his only moment) for last. With the Jets net empty, Kane beat Byfuglien to a loose puck and instead of simply grabbing a cheap goal against his former team — which probably would have tasted delicious — he passed it through two Jets players over to Sam Reinhart, who buried it for his first NHL hat trick.
The Winnipeg players: Tyler Myers and Drew Stafford, two of the players Kane (and Zach Bogosian) were traded for last February.
Sunday was never going to live up to the anticipation — that was pretty much a guarantee. Kane distanced himself from the circus beforehand and the Jets weren't interested in giving him any further attention.
The potential was there for something big. Kane didn't score and Winnipeg lost.
Now we can all turn the page.