Oilers Evander Kane’s sports hernia brings more questions than answers

Edmonton OIlers Evander Kane
Photo credit:Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Laing
13 days ago
Evander Kane is dealing with a sports hernia.
He told reporters in Edmonton on Sunday that he’s been working through it all season, admitting he isn’t fully up to speed ahead of game one of the playoffs on Monday. After missing the last few games of the regular season, Kane skated as a full participant at practice Sunday but skated on the fourth line.
“It’s just been getting worse and worse, so I thought it would be good to take a week off and see how it can feel,” said Kane, adding after the Vancouver game it had flared up again. “It’s been flaring all year. It’s something I’ve had to manage kind of all year, and do what I can to feel better.
“It’s one of those things that just requires some time and time away from skating. I got that in this week, finally. It doesn’t affect my shoulder or my upper body to a degree. Anybody whose had that type of injury understands it’s more skating, quickness, agility and quick movements.”
This year has undoubtedly been one of the highs and lows for Kane.
He started the year red hot scoring 14 goals and 24 points in his first 35 games, but his production plummetted through his final 42, scoring just 10 goals and 20 points.  On a point-per-game pace, that production in the back half of his season paced him for what would’ve been his lowest-scoring season in almost a decade.
It’s clear that this injury was a potential cause of that significant drop-off in his play, but the handling of it raises many more questions than answers.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a sports hernia “happens when the deep layers of your lower abdominal wall or the tendons that attach muscles to your pelvis weaken or tear.” They usually require types of formal treatment rather than rest, making the injury unlikely to heal on its own, the Clinic added, and when the injury persists two to six months after non-surgical treatment, surgery is usually required.
So, while it’s not known when the injury occurred, the Oilers’ desire to keep Kane in the lineup is without a doubt questionable. It’s been painfully clear all season long that something wasn’t right with him, and the fact that they didn’t opt to get the winger surgery and place him on the long-term injured reserve is concerning.
From the player’s standpoint, this would’ve given Kane the proper time to recover from the injury and potentially be healthy for game one of the playoffs. While it’s understandable for a player to want to remain in the lineup and contribute however they can, as Kane himself alluded to Sunday, there’s a much bigger picture at hand, and Kane was going to be needed at his best for this playoff run.
And from a team standpoint, Kane remaining in the lineup all season is inexcusable, considering had the winger gotten surgery and landed on the long-term injured reserve, his $5.125-million could’ve been cleared from the books for the time being. That money would’ve been massive for a cap-strapped team who needed to add additional assets in their trade deadline move to pickup Adam Henrique and Sam Carrick with 50 percent of their salary retained. Maybe that retention and extra assets wouldn’t have been needed if the club had the additional salary cap space.
Both players have been solid for the team, without a doubt, but maybe the club could’ve opened up the opportunity to go after some of the bigger fish in the trade market. Maybe they could’ve taken a larger swing at Jake Guentzel, whom the club had an interest in before his trade to the Carolina Hurricanes. All Guentzel has done there, too, is put up numbers, scoring eight goals and 25 points in 17 games.
Carolina didn’t give up much to acquire Guentzel, either, trading a roster player in Michael Bunting, three middling prospects and a second-round draft pick that could become a first to the Penguins. The Oilers surely could’ve matched that deal.
Or maybe they could’ve still brought in Henrique and Carrick and grabbed winger Anthony Duclair, who has fit in well on the Tampa Bay Lightning’s top line, scoring eight goals and 15 points in the final 17 games.
Or maybe they could’ve made an addition on the blue line, picking up Sean Walker to replace Cody Ceci in the top four. With little surprise, Walker has been a great fit for the Avalanche scoring four goals and seven points in 18 games.
Now, the Oilers are going to hope and pray that Kane can provide something positive for the club in these playoffs, instead of knowing that potentially could’ve had him healthy and operating at a higher level when they need him more than ever.

Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at zach@thenationnetwork.com.

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