The Winnipeg Jets stopped squabbling long enough to actually play a hockey game on Friday night.
They did so, of course, without Evander Kane, who was an unhealthy scratch due to a pair of serious upper body injuries—a left shoulder owie and a sagging lower lip.
Medical doctors will repair the mercurial left winger’s wounded wing Saturday and he should be good to resume ignoring the team dress code, and other rules, in four-to-six months. The lower lip surgery is not so simple. It’s a trickier bit of business because removing a perpetual pout will take anywhere from 48 hours to 4 1/2 months, and the man who will perform the procedure, Kevin Cheveldayoff, is MIA. No one is quite certain where the Jets groundhog of a general manager is hiding these days.
Still, there is confidence of an early resolution in the Kane camp.
“We have every reason to believe that Evander will be smiling again in the very near future,” said his mouthpiece, Craig Oster. “Once we can find Chevy and he grants Evander his longstanding wish of being a former Jet, he’ll put on his best track suit, pay his outstanding parking tickets and nightclub tabs and he’ll be out of Dodge permanently. A one-way ticket out of Winnipeg…that’d make any young hockey player with an attitude smile, wouldn’t you say?”
As for Kane’s rehab from season-ending shoulder surgery, Oster was equally optimistic.
“It’ll be a long, hard road back,” he said, “but Evander’s a young stud. Why, I’ll bet he’s in Vegas doing pushups with money bricks on his back within a week of his surgery. He’ll have to start slowly, though. Maybe use half a dozen stacks of 20-dollar bills at first. Then gradually work his way up to a dozen stacks of 100-dollar bills. We might start him off with Canadian currency, too, because it’s not as heavy as the U.S. greenback these days.
“Whatever way we choose to go, you can be sure Evander will keep all his fans and friends in the Winnipeg media up to date with regular Instagram photos from the Vegas strip.”
The apparent end of the Evander Kane era was met with subdued reaction in the Winnipeg players’ boudoir.
“I don’t know what to tell you guys,” said Dustin Byfuglien, who seldom knows what to tell the guys and girls in the media. “Evander’s always been a bit of an outsider on the inside. But me and the boys are a tight-knit group and did everything to make him feel part of the team. Me and the boys even did his laundry for him earlier this week in Vancouver. Can you imagine that? A bunch of grown men washing another grown man’s clothes! I think that says a lot about me and the boys.
“But how does he react? He has a hissy fit. Quits the team. I don’t know, I guess he was mad ’cause he didn’t have nothin’ to wear back to the hotel. What did he expect me and the boys to do, though? Put his track suit in the dryer, too? Me and the boys aren’t gonna wash AND dry his clothes. What kind of message would that be sending? A guy’s gotta do some things for himself.”
Paul Maurice, head coach of the National Hockey League club and fiercely protective of the goings-on in the Jets inner-sanctum, seemed concerned not so much that Kane was lost for the season but, rather, that word of his players’ frat-boy version of a panty raid leaked out.
“You want me to make you cry?” he said, addressing news scavengers. “Come into that dressing room. I’ll make you freaking cry. You’ll cry like a baby. Just like Evander did after Buff and the boys did his laundry. I know you guys have a job to do, and I appreciate the job you do, but you have no business knowing what you know. I control the message…or at least Chevy does. But we can’t find him, so I control the message and my message to you is that I know you don’t know what you think you know. Let me put it to you in terms you can understand: Buff can toss Evander’s track suit in a tub of ice-cold water, but we will not wash our dirty laundry in public. So it’s all speculation. I’d rather talk about the game.”
Oh, that’s right…the game. That’s where we came in. The Jets played the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday night at the Little Hockey House on the Prairie. They lost, 2-1 in overtime. That’s six losses in a row. The beat goes on.
Patti Dawn Swansson has been writing about Winnipeg sports for more than 40 years, longer than any living being. Do not, however, assume that to mean she harbors a wealth of sports knowledge or that she’s a jock journalist of award-winning loft. It simply means she is old and comfortable at a keyboard (although arthritic fingers sometimes make typing a bit of a chore) and she apparently doesn’t know when to quit. Or she can’t quit.
She is most proud of her Q Award, presented to her in 2012 for her scribblings about the LGBT community in Victoria, B.C., and her induction into the Manitoba Sportswriters & Sportscasters Association Media Roll of Honour.