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CHICAGO — The Sharks placed Evander Kane on waivers Sunday, likely spelling the end of his tumultuous tenure with the NHL team.
The other 31 NHL teams now have until 11 a.m. (PT) on Monday to claim Kane and add him to their roster. If Kane clears waivers, which he likely will, he will be assigned the Barracuda of the AHL.
Kane, assuming he clears waivers, said in a statement that he will report to the Barracuda as his 21-game suspension for violating the NHL/NHLPA’s COVID protocol ends Monday.
Sharks assistant general manager Joe Will said Kane is expected to be at practice on Tuesday.
“We looked at all options that we had since the suspension started,” Will said. “We just decided that since he’s contracted hockey player, it’s the best thing at this time for him to continue to play hockey, and the best option for that right now is the Barracuda.”
The decision allows the Sharks to keep Kane away from the NHL while still they potentially try to work out a trade with another team. A report in the New York Post on Saturday indicated that an Eastern Conference team, not the Rangers, was showing interest in acquiring Kane.
Although there was speculation that they would simply pay him to stay home. the Sharks would likely have difficulty trading Kane if they couldn’t give him a chance to play.
“Anything is a possibility,” Will said when asked about a trade. “We continue to look at all options, and we’re not committed to any. We’ll pursue anything that’s there, as we do daily with our roster and our organization.”
In the statement made by Kane and his new agent, Dan Milstein, they said, “Over the past few weeks, we have been discussing Evander’s return to San Jose. We were not surprised by the Sharks’ decision to put him on waivers and, if he does clear, he will report to the Barracudas. Evander is looking forward to resuming his NHL career this season.”
Kane, 30, was under two investigations prior to the start of the regular season, including one that probed allegations of physical and sexual abuse that were made in court documents by his estranged wife, Anna.
The NHL on Oct. 18 announced it could not substantiate allegations of abuse, but suspended Kane for a quarter of the season for submitting a fake vaccination card. Kane, who, according to Will, is now vaccinated, has been skating on his own of late but has not practiced with the Sharks since the start of the team’s training camp in September.
Kane said in a statement after the suspension was announced in October that he “made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for,” adding that, “when my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”
The Sharks’ decision, first reported by this news organization, came hours before the team’s game with the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday at the United Center, the first of a five-game road trip.
Kane is in the fourth year of a seven-year, $49 million contract that he signed with the Sharks in May 2018. The deal carries an average annual value of $7 million. Kane is still owed over $20 million in salary, and another team would take on that entire cap hit and owe him that money if they claim him.
If Kane clears waivers, the Sharks would get $1.125 million in salary cap relief.
A report in The Athletic this summer indicated that friction had built up between Kane and his teammates throughout the 2020-2021 season, to the point where some Sharks players expressed to management that they no longer wanted Kane on the team. Their frustration stemmed from Kane’s perceived overall lax attitude toward team rules, including being late for practices and games.
Kane in September told ESPN that he didn’t “necessarily know or believe that that’s true.” Regardless, the relationship between the Sharks and Kane had been fractured, perhaps beyond repair.
“I think that we like what we have in our room,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said. “We’ve built a pretty good atmosphere and culture and we’re going to continue to do that. This sort of allows us to put this behind us a little bit.”
Sharks captain Logan Couture said players were appraised of what the team’s plans were for Kane. Will has taken over day-to-day managerial duties from Doug Wilson, who is on a temporary medical leave of absence.
“Management, whether it’s Joe or Doug, has been in contact with players throughout the process,” Couture said. “Obviously, Doug’s going through his own stuff right now. So it’s more so Joe in the last little while. They’ve kept us up to speed.”
The Barracuda is slated to practice again on Wednesday and Thursday before a scheduled game Friday in Abbotsford, B.C. That area, though, has been affected by severe flooding and it is unclear if the game will be played.
Will added that Kane may not be ready to play in that game as he continues to improve his conditioning. He also has to adhere to team rules.
“We have club rules, a standard of conduct in place, which will be enforced,” Will said. “Like with any player, if things aren’t being adhered to, they will be addressed.”
Kane was originally acquired by the Sharks from the Buffalo Sabres on Feb. 26, 2018, just before the NHL trade deadline, for forward Danny O’Regan and conditional first and fourth-round draft picks in 2019.
Kane helped the Sharks reach the second round of the NHL playoffs that season and as a pending unrestricted free agent, was signed to a hefty deal shortly after San Jose’s postseason run came to an end.
Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Kane has 152 points, including 78 goals. He was the Sharks’ most productive player last season with 49 points in 56 games.
Kane was drafted fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2009. He moved with the team to Winnipeg in 2011 and spent close to four seasons with the Jets before he was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in Feb. 2015.
In 769 career NHL games, Kane has 506 points, fifth-most in his draft class.
Through the first 20 games this season, the Sharks had a 10-9-1 record and entered Sunday tied for fifth place in the Pacific Division.