The morning after the story broke that former Winnipeg Jet Evander Kane criticized his old team in a Hockey News article, current players and coach Paul Maurice faced more questions from reporters.
It was clearly not the topic the Jets wanted to discuss ahead of Tuesday's matchup against the 2014 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, but it was a topic they couldn't fully avoid.
Kane is reported to have said that during his time in Winnipeg, his teammates and the organization didn't have his back or appreciate that he played through so many injuries.
"It is frustrating to have to speak about somebody who's no longer with us, but I think the one thing you'll hear from most of the guys is it's too bad he feels that way. From there, I'm not inside his head; if you want further comment, you'd have to fly to Buffalo to get more out of that," said Jets forward Blake Wheeler.
Chris Thorburn, arguably one of the Jets Kane was closest to, said it was "unfortunate.
"I feel bad that he feels that way. Obviously he had some experiences that nobody knows about, including myself, so those are his feelings and his thoughts. It's unfortunate that he feels that way but, at the same time, we wish him luck and hopefully he does well in Buffalo."
Reporters asked Thorburn whether he felt he had Kane's back during his time in Winnipeg.
"Personally, I'd like to think so. As a team, we kind of structure ourselves as a tight-knit group, and I'd like to think that we did, but at the same time, like I said, he's got his feelings. Things might have happened that I don't even know about that kind of persuaded him a different way. I'm just going to leave it at that, as far as he's got his own feelings, his own opinions, and that's life really,"
Good for Kane
It seems as though Kane had some bottled-up emotions and getting them off his chest might be healthy for him, Thorburn added.
Head coach Paul Maurice, who wasn't with the Jets when Kane first joined the team, explained that the issues surrounding Evander Kane were not a one-day event, and it was clear from the article that these issues were things that bothered him right from the start.
"There's some positives things in this. I've had guys that didn't want to be there and they didn't keep it quiet. It was in the papers, it was in the news. I appreciated the fact, I was aware of the fact that Evander would have probably rather played somewhere else, and had a full understanding of when that contract expired he would be playing somewhere else. I think he did as well as he could have to try to make it work. In his mind it just wasn't, and I think he also felt that it was never going to," said Maurice.
Kane was dealt to the Buffalo Sabres last February after an incident with teammates erupted when Kane reportedly showed up late for a team meeting and not in proper attire. Following that, Kane elected to have doctor-recommended season-ending shoulder surgery.
Maurice likened the relationship to a difficult marriage that has now ended amicably — but it might not feel so amicable on Jan. 10. Kane, who is currently out for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, is expected to be back and suiting up for the Buffalo Sabres as they make their only appearance in Winnipeg this season.