Evander at 32
Photo credit:Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
1 month ago
Count me among those who cast a big-time side-eye at the Edmonton Oilers when GM Ken Holland signed free agent Evander Kane in January 2022. Too much baggage. Too much risk. That was the story. I was in a sizeable group of people who thought so. You?
Here we are, a day before Kane blows out 32 candles on the birthday cake, and the edgy and talented forward has been nothing short of terrific on the ice with 38-29-67 through 84 regular season games and even better in 27 post-season games with 16-6-22. That, despite missing half of last season with a serious wrist injury.
We’ve heard plenty about Kane off the ice, but not in the way many people, me included, thought we might. There’s been no drama I can recall. Instead, we’re hearing about Kane and his relationship with 10-year-old cancer fighter Cecily Eklund and their trip to Disneyland in support of the Ben Stelter Fund.
We’re hearing how Kane showed up to play in an Edmonton beer league game in early July under the hilarious pseudonym Fa Afo, as in the acronym FAFO. Simply put, Kane has been a model citizen off the ice and money in the bank on it. He’s surpassed every expectation I had since he arrived – in large part because I wasn’t expecting very much – and has been a positive force in countless ways.
Happy birthday, Kane.
ON THIS DAY
Wayne Gretzky wipes away tears during a press conference to announce his being traded from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los Angeles Kings at a press conference in Edmonton on August 9, 1988. Wayne Gretzky’s trade to the Los Angeles Kings from the Edmonton Oilers on Aug. 9, 1988 continues to create a ripple effect 25 years later. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ray Giguere
I enjoy the “On This Day” items that pop up on my timeline. While today, Aug. 1, doesn’t rank as a big day in Oilers history – we’ll have one of those Aug. 9, to mark the sale of Wayne Gretzky to Los Angeles during the summer of 1988 – this wasn’t a great day in 2020.
Aug. 1, 2020, was the day Chicago Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik tallied five points, 2-3-5, in his first NHL playoff game in a 6-4 win over the favored Oilers in the first game of their play-in series, which Chicago went on to win 3-1. It didn’t help that starter Mike Smith gave up five goals on 23 shots in just 26:32 before getting the hook in favor of Mikko Koskinen.
The Oilers, 37-25-9 for 83 points, weren’t expected to have a lot of trouble with the Blackhawks, 32-30-8 for 72 points, but the play-in at Rogers Place was the end of the line for them. While the Oilers came back to win 6-3 in the second game, 4-3 and 3-2 wins sealed the deal for the Blackhawks.
Four years, prior, Aug. 1, 2016, Sam Gagner signed as a free agent with the Columbus Blue Jackets between his first and second stints with the Oilers. Points-wise, Gagner enjoyed the best season of his NHL career with the Jackets with 18-32-50 in 81 games. Gagner returned for a 61-game encore with the Oilers from Vancouver when he was acquired for Ryan Spooner.
- I’ll be surprised if the Oilers and Ryan McLeod don’t work out a new contract before their scheduled arbitration hearing on Friday. Of course, what McLeod gets will also impact the bridge deal for Evan Bouchard. I’m guessing McLeod comes in at right about $2 million, give or take 100K, for two years. As for Bouchard, we’re looking at $3 million, give or take.
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