Controversial former Jets' forward Evander Kane is returning for the first time to the city he spurned after being traded in February 2015 to the Buffalo Sabres.
"I'm sure it will be interesting and entertaining," Kane told reporters during a locker room scrum in Buffalo this week.
"It can be hostile," Kane was quoted by The Buffalo News website as saying of the arena atmosphere. "They've got some passionate fans there. I guess that's the way to put it, passionate."
To welcome him back, in the creative way Jets fans have become known around the NHL, a Twitter campaign has been encouraging people to wear track suits to the Sunday afternoon game at MTS Centre.
#TrackSuitNight is in reference to the splash Kane made ahead of his trade. About a week before he was shipped off, Kane was a kept out of the Jets lineup after he wore a track suit to the arena, a violation of the club's dress code.
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It was also later reported that Dustin Byfuglien threw the track suit into the shower.
Almost immediately after the tracksuit incident, Kane was put on the injured reserve list and on Feb. 11 he was sent to the Buffalo Sabres, along with Jets' defenceman Zach Bogosian. In exchange, Winnipeg got Tyler Myers, Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a draft pick (which became Jack Roslovic).
Jets' fans have been eagerly awaiting the Sabres' visit, particularly after comments Kane made in October. The U.S.-based blog site, Barstool Sports, posted an interview in which Kane he was asked who in the league he would most want to fight.
His reply: "Probably Andrew Ladd or Blake Wheeler."
Around the same time, in an interview with The Hockey News, Kane openly complained about Winnipeg and the Jets. He said he never wanted to be in the city, asking for a trade every off-season. He also talked about feeling he was putting everything out there but wasn't being supported by his teammates.
Kane was well-known for stirring the pot during his time as a Jet and quickly developed a reputation as having an ego that was bigger than the team.
In December 2012, he ignited Twitter by posting a photo of himself clutching bricks of dollar bills in Las Vegas. It was at the same time as the NHL lockout — at a time when the public was growing angry with the players' union trying to negotiate for more money.
Jets' fans also dish out for some of the most expensive game tickets in the league so Kane's antics didn't sit well.
Kane was back at it two years later, posting a photo on his Instagram account in which he appears to be doing pushups with bundles of U.S. currency on his back, while part of the Las Vegas skyline is visible in the background.
That prompted one season-ticket holder, Susan Krepart, to call on Kane to take some of the cash off of his back and donate it to a baby formula drive that she organizes.
"It struck me as a little bit callous. You know, you're in a city where there's so much need," she said. "Let's give back to the city that you represent."
Kane never responded to the challenge.
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Nearly a year after the trade, many Jets' fans continue harbouring angry feelings for Kane, several of whom are still trying to get rid of their Kane-related merchandise.
While #TrackSuitNight gains traction, some fans think it could backfire. Showing Kane how much he has impacted them will only swell his self-admiration, they say.
@NHLJets fans, don't boo Evander Kane, pretend he isn't even there. Booing him will stoke his giant ego. Don't give him the satisfaction— @jillyw69
Suit OR Tuxedo night would be a far better option for people to wear when Kane is back in town. Wear what the players wear. Not Evander Kane— @JHendrix70
It's not just Jets' fans who are expressing their dislike for Kane. It seems he hasn't been able to win everyone over in Buffalo, either.
@evanderkane_9. Feel free to leave Buffalo anytime, no room for selfish players.— @Faolchu_Aonair
Evander Kane is the most selfish player I've seen- He's also being given a free pass so he's allowed to think he's better than the next guy— @murf_dogg
All that Evander Kane brings to the Buffalo Sabres is shots off goal posts and distractions off ice. I wish he would just disappear.— @bill_janus
Evander Kane is not good.— @DeMar097
But there are some pulling for Kane … even if they're not a fan of his.
I hope Evander Kane scores 95 goals against Winnipeg.— @CodyTeij10