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Off the Top of My Head: Evander Kane steps away from HDA, Evan Bouchard, and Hockey Night in Canada

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Photo credit:Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
7 months ago
I was a little bit surprised Evander Kane of the Edmonton Oilers announced via Twitter Friday he’s stepping away from the Hockey Diversity Alliance Group, which he helped start in June of 2020 to promote diversity and end racism in hockey.
Kane, who launched the HDA with Akim Aliu and had Trevor Daley, Matt Dumba, Wayne Simmonds, Chris Stewart, and Joel Ward on the executive committee, gave his reasons for stepping away in a released statement which reads in part, “ the HDA is now being led and influenced by members with individual agendas.”
In addition, Kane said, “There has also been a combative approach with other organizations and groups that have embarked on similar goals. This is a method I do not support.” This move comes in the wake of the NHL and the NHLPA launching the Player Inclusion Coalition, chaired by former Oiler Anson Carter as well as P.K. Subban, which drew pointed criticism from the HDA via Twitter July 5.
The HDA statement read: “Laudable on its face, laughable in full context of the work we have been doing for three years without the league’s support. The NHL’s players coalition’s mission statement does not echo the HDA’s goals so much as cynically attempt to appropriate them.”
The HDA responded to Kane’s statement by saying he hadn’t been part of the group for more than two years. That’s here. 

SIGNIFICANT CUTS TO COME?

With the demise of Edmonton’s TSN 1260 still fresh amid a series of programming and personnel cuts in the sports broadcasting biz, there’s speculation about significant changes to the Hockey Night in Canada panel next season in the name of cost-cutting measures, according to former FAN-590 radio man Howard Berger.
According to Berger: “It was an alarming bit of speculation from a media source familiar to everyone in the Canadian sports television industry: ‘We may not recognize the Hockey Night In Canada panel next season,’ claimed this person. ‘Based on what I’m told, only Elliotte Friedman is safe from the changes and cost–cutting measures on the horizon.’
“With the NHL pact set to expire after the 2025–26 season, Rogers will evidently reduce its on-air budget. How this might impact Hockey Night studio commentators Ron MacLean, Kelly Hrudey, Kevin Bieksa and Jennifer Botterill remains to be determined, but MacLean’s future, in particular, seems tenuous . . .” For context, the entire Berger’s Between the Posts blog is here.
MacLean, 63, has been a HNIC fixture since 1986-87. I’m guessing many younger fans figure he’s well beyond his best-before date and should have been sent packing when Don Cherry was let go back in 2019. That’s fair comment – Coach’s Corner was a tired parody by the time it was scrapped. That said, I’m led to believe by somebody close to the situation Berger’s source has it wrong. We’ll see.
Bieksa, 42, has developed quite a following since joining the HNIC panel in 2020. Bieksa is smart, edgy and can relate with today’s players and fans. Surely, there’s a place for him. As for Friedman, who is a decade older than Bieksa at 52, he’s a trusted voice and a terrific reporter. I can’t imagine HNIC won’t keep both of them. What’s your take?

ABOUT EVAN

Mar 20, 2023; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer (47) makes a save on Edmonton Oilers defensemen Evan Bouchard (2) during overtime at Rogers Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
Jason Gregor made a point worth considering Friday in an item he wrote about Evan Bouchard and a new contract. Specifically, it’s about how successful the Oilers’ power play has been and that it’s Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl who make it tick whether it’s Bouchard, Tyson Barrie or Darnell Nurse playing the point.
“From 2021-2023, Tyson Barrie played 550 minutes with those two and the Oilers scored 120 powerplay goals. They had a 13.08 goals/60. Bouchard played 186 minutes with those two and the Oilers scored 42 goals and had a 13.5 GF/60. Darnell Nurse played 100 minutes with McDavid and Draisaitl and they scored 22 goals and had a 13.19 GF/60.”
Bouchard, destined for a bridge contract, is going to put up points because he’s part of the most prolific power play in the NHL. If that PP produces at roughly the same rate regardless of who deals the puck from the blueline, what do the Oilers pay Bouchard with Nurse at $9.25 million and Mattias Ekholm at $6 million? Is the money better spent on more of a defender than a points-producer, given the make-up of this blueline? Fair question.

REPORT RELEASE EXPECTED

Award-winning investigative reporter Rick Westhead of TSN and CTV says we should expect the release of an investigative report regarding an alleged sexual assault involving a number of players from Canada’s 2018 World Junior Championship team. 
From Westhead on Twitter:
“Several team execs, sponsors, and player agents tell me they are bracing for the NHL’s possible release of an investigation report re an alleged sexual assault involving as many as eight players on Canada’s 2018 world junior team. If NHL names and suspends players allegedly involved, affected players would likely appeal any sanctions to an arbitrator, as per CBA, and may pursue defamation lawsuits vs league, said agent of one player who attended 2018 Hockey Canada gala.” The entire item is here.
In this case, the wheels of justice certainly have turned slowly – the incident in question dates back to June of 2018 in a London hotel room after a fund-raising event.

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