Oilers’ Kane Becoming a Leader on and off the Ice

When the Edmonton Oilers brought Evander Kane into the fold almost a year ago, there was a split in Oil Country over the decision. On one side, some fans were appalled the Oilers would sign someone with a long list of allegations. On the other side, many were rejoicing that the team lucked out and were able to land essentially a $7 million player at a $2 million prorated cap hit.  

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Yet, we know the feel-good story that unfolded thereafter. He scored 22 goals and added 17 assists in 43 regular season games, good for a 41-goal pace in an 82-game season. In the postseason, Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl put on dominant performances, but Kane also rose to the occasion. He led the playoffs with 13 goals in 15 games while also delivering the fourth most hits (73). Needless to say, he fit in perfectly with the orange and blue and turned doubters into believers.

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Kane acknowledged that he wasn’t sure if he would be returning to Edmonton after the 2021-22 season was over, knowing how tight they were with the salary cap. But with some moves, and Duncan Keith’s retirement freeing up money, the Oilers were able to sign him to a four-year deal worth $20.5 million.

Kane’s style of play on the ice speaks for itself. As one of the team’s best goal scorers and most physical players, he’s naturally a leader. In saying that, the Oilers have sorely missed him in the lineup since he went down with a wrist injury on Nov. 8; however, he’s still finding ways to contribute off the ice.

On Dec. 10, two Edmonton schools released that Kane and other businesses donated over $25,000 to students at their schools, and over 100 kids were offered $250 shopping sprees to spend on themselves. Moreover, on Dec. 12, the Edmonton Public School Board tweeted that students had a holiday shopping experience of a lifetime and received a chance to shop with Kane. It was also mentioned that a few students used their gift cards to buy $250 worth of groceries for their household, and when the Oilers’ forward found out, he gave them an extra $250 for themselves.

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Kane posted a video on his Instagram and talked about the students who bought groceries for their household, saying, “I [let them know] that we’re going to take care of your groceries and on top of it, we’re going to make sure you’re going to get another gift card so you can get yourself something.” He added, “To see their selflessness, their big hearts — these are the people you want to be around, and you want to help.” Even though Kane has been out with an injury, he’s still finding a way to make a positive impact within Edmonton’s community.

Kane Has Become a Subtle Leader on the Oilers

Before the start of the season, I described how Kane was showing subtle leadership qualities in practice with his teammates. In September, TSN’s Ryan Rishaug tweeted a video of Kane engaging in a scrum with teammate Ryan McLeod, as he pushed, shoved, and gave body shots to his fellow Oiler at the end of practice, and it was a good-natured exchange among teammates. In the end, Kane gave McLeod a tap on the pants with his stick, a gesture of playfulness, with Rishaug also mentioning that it was all in good fun.

Also, before the start of last season’s playoffs, he playfully “dropped the gloves” with young defenseman Evan Bouchard. He tied him up and threw fake punches, and it was shown in a video released by the Oilers’ social media that both players had smiles on their faces.

Only the players know what goes on beyond the locker room doors, and everyone else can only speculate. However, from what’s been released on social media, it appears Kane has fit in with his teammates tremendously well.

Kane Started Skating but Is Likely Out Another Few Months

Most recently, Kane appeared on the “After Hours” show with Scott Oake on Nov. 19. Hockey analyst and former player Louie DeBrusk talked about the Oilers forward not being in the lineup and also about the positive effect that he has on his teammates, saying, “I know you’re a guy, you’re always joking. When I watch you on the ice, you’re bumping into guys, you’re slashing the young guys, making sure they’re involved, I mean, I’m sure they’re going to miss that.”

Evander Kane Edmonton Oilers
Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Oilers lost four out of the next six games after Kane went down with an injury, and his presence is greatly missed in the lineup. Some positives are that he’s keeping busy by giving back to the community, but he was also seen on the ice on Dec. 3 skating for the first time since he had surgery on his wrist. Still, the power forward is anticipated to be out of the lineup for another three to four months.

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Kane summarized his opportunity with the Oilers on “After Hours,” saying, “I’ve kind of had a re-set in my life, and this was kind of a fresh start for me, and it’s rare to get second opportunities where you can have a re-set, and I wanted to make sure I took full advantage of mine.” Without a doubt, Kane has not only seized his second opportunity but has taken a leadership role on the Oilers and in Edmonton’s community as well.