NHL clears Evander Kane to play and he’s now signed with Edmonton Oilers, insider reports

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In this of the NHL, announces that its investigation of Evander Kane has been completed and that he has been cleared to play: The National Hockey League announced today that it has concluded its investigation into the circumstances in which Evander Kane crossed the border during the holiday season.

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The report prepared as part of the investigation, which was conducted by Patterson Belknap Webb & Tyler LLP, concluded that there was insufficient evidence to “conclusively conclude that Mr. Kane knowingly committed misrepresentation regarding his COVID-19 status or test results in connection with his overseas travel.”

As a result, the League has decided not to pursue any additional League-imposed discipline against Kane at this time.

Kane remains an unrestricted free agent and is currently eligible to sign and play for any NHL club without restriction.

Meanwhile, TSN’s Darren Dreger reports, “NHL Clears Kane of CoVid Protocol Violation Allegations. Kane has a deal with the Oilers that will pay him nearly $1 million for the rest of the season. Full non-displacement clause forming part of the agreement. Kane will travel to Edmonton first thing tonight or tomorrow.

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Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet reports, “Kane’s deal in EDM is $750,000 in salary and $625,000 in signing bonus, which means a cap of around $2.1M. Full NMC.

my catch

1. The Edmonton Oilers are taking a major risk here, both in terms of team chemistry and in terms of fan loyalty and acceptance of this decision.

2. I will repeat some of the points I made when the Kane in Edmonton rumors first surfaced. First, Kane had a plethora of personal, legal, and financial issues, including problems getting along with his teammates. Every Oilers fan will decide whether or not the Oilers should seek to sign such a player. It’s hard to fathom what’s going on in his life other than he had an extremely troubled marriage to his ex-wife Anna. I note that the California courts have got sole custody of the couple’s young child to Evander, not Anna. I give some weight to this judgment because the case was heard in court, with evidence presented on both sides and an impartial judge making the appeal, as opposed to trial by Twitter.

But the court’s decision is limited and does not eliminate the many other allegations and issues surrounding Kane. Kane has a checkered past with many serious legal issues. Of that, there is no doubt. If some people look at his story and conclude that he’s such a bad actor that they can’t cheer for the Oilers anymore, I respect that. We are all fans by choice. If you choose not to be a fan, that’s fair, that’s reasonable.

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3. With Kane signed, and if Dylan Holloway continues to progress in Bakersfield to the point where he’s ready for the baseline in Edmonton, the Oilers will have dramatically improved their depth up front:

Kane McDavid Yamamoto

Hyman Draisaitl Puljujarvi

Foegele RNH Holloway

Benson McLeod Kassian

Scevious Ryan Shore

4. It’s obvious that Connor McDavid and other Oilers were in favor of the team bringing in Kane and giving him another chance. Given that their main goal is to win hockey games, this is not surprising, but some will find this goal too narrow.

5. My own opinion of Kane hasn’t changed, that I’m open to seeing him get another chance in professional hockey. As fans, we are all free to judge the players and support them or not. My own reflection on Kane, and others facing serious allegations, is informed by my experience as a journalist and my own mistakes in judging people incorrectly. I covered major crimes in Edmonton and Northern Alberta for twenty years, including numerous major murder trials. It gave me a healthy respect for how easy it is for me and others to jump to conclusions and assume guilt, only to find out later that the story was much more complex, than the accused was either not guilty at all or guilty of some things, but not the main crime.

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I jumped to the wrong conclusions a few times. More importantly, I’ve seen smart and experienced police investigators get tunnel vision and make the same mistake. Having been wrong in the past, I am now very careful about making quick judgments on anyone accused of lesser crimes and/or misdeeds. I have come to respect the presumption of innocence both as a crucial part of the legal process and because I understand my own fallibility from personal experience, having misjudged people based on partial evidence and my own prejudices.

The presumption of innocence is an important aspect of the decent treatment of others. It is a crucial part of the process of being fair and just. That doesn’t mean Kane is innocent or not a bad guy. This means that I am nowhere to judge him properly, that place being the courts, where the various allegations against him are currently taking place.

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