Accusation of Evander Kane causing drama is actually the drama

Mark Spector has accused Evander Kane of causing unnecessary drama at the wrong time, but it's the Sportsnet columnist who's creating problematic narratives.
Arizona Coyotes v Edmonton Oilers
Arizona Coyotes v Edmonton Oilers / Leila Devlin/GettyImages

As Oil on Whyte's Devon Hladunewich wrote earlier this week, Evander Kane has an injury which could potentially cause problems for the Edmonton Oilers' Stanley Cup aspirations. Speaking to the media on Sunday after practice, Kane said: "It's been nice to finally get some rest. I've been dealing with a sports hernia all year. It was just getting worse and worse, so I thought it would be good to take a week off before the playoffs and try to see how I can feel."

The 32-year-old was then asked if it was frustrating to have the hernia flare up at such a crucial time of the year, ahead of Monday's opening game in the first round of the playoffs. He said: "It's been flaring all year. It's just something I've tried to manage kind of all year, (and) do what I can to feel better, but it's one of those things which just requires some time away from skating."

Now understandably this was newsworthy, as it would be if any professional athlete revealed they had been playing with a sports hernia. It was known that Kane had been dealing with a lingering injury all season, so it was good to get some clarity on what exactly the issue was.

The news lead to a variety of subsequent opinions, including Caleb Kerney of The Hockey News accusing the Oilers of grossly mismanaging Kane's injury. However, it's the take of Sportsnet's Mark Spector, which has caught the majority of attention.

Accusation of causing drama

Spector called out the Oilers winger on Tuesday, accusing him of causing unnecessary drama at the wrong time of the season. Appearing on The Jason Gregor Show, via Oilers Nation, he said: "As has been the case all of Kane's career, too much drama boys. Too much drama around Evander Kane. Useless drama. ... This is needless drama that you don't need starting the playoffs, that you don't want in your dressing room. ... he runs his course as the bringer of drama."

Now we do appreciate everyone is entitled to their opinion, while also factoring in the saying that perception is reality. However, the irony of Spector's comments is that he himself can be accused of causing unnecessary drama at the wrong time of the season.

The Sportsnet columnist has been known at times, to frustrate people within the Oilers organisation. For example, previous Oilers coach Jay Woodcroft had his run-ins with Spector during his time in Edmonton, including once accusing him of not being professional.

Actually, professional conduct or lack thereof could be something to at least consider in why Spector decided to have a go at Kane. In the same media session following practice on Sunday, the 2009 fourth overall draft pick laughed and then corrected the Sportsnet columnist in response to a question, saying he had never played on the first unit power play for the Oilers.

Blown out of proportion

Really, this all seems like much ado about nothing, with Kane only guilty of being transparent about his injury. In fact, it makes a refreshing change from the usual ambiguity which surrounds official injury reports around the NHL.

The issue Kane has to deal with, is that he is always going to be doubted just because of his history in the NHL prior to arriving in Edmonton. Fair or not, this puts him under extra scrutiny and viewed more suspiciously/negatively, even though he has mostly been a model citizen during his time with the Oilers.

As a result of his past, Kane has made several headlines this season, including about comments made during interviews, perceived heated exchanges with teammates, and apparent discipline disguised as a maintenance day. As with the latest incident, all of these situations appear to have been blown out of proportion.

The irony is that despite all of this manufactured drama, the reality is the Vancouver native has had a pretty decent season on the ice. Even more so, now that we know he's been dealing with a sports hernia throughout the 2023-24 campaign which caused his form to fluctuate.

Consider that Kane actually carried a lot of the scoring early on in the season, when Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were struggling with their own production, with 20 points in 19 games. He finished the regular season seventh on the team in scoring -- his 44 points were his most in three seasons with the Oilers -- while also leading them with 250 hits.

There was more encouragement, in the Oilers' 7-4 win over the Kings on Monday night. While the former Buffalo Sabre had no points, he led all forwards in ice time at even strength, and overall had a good performance.

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Ultimately, Spector's comments will not negatively affect Kane and the rest of the players - in fact if anything, he might help bring them closer together. Regardless, it just doesn't seem like the best of ideas to accuse someone of drama, when the perception to a lot of folks is that this is exactly what you are doing.

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