At midnight EDT, the NHL’s current collective bargaining agreement is set to expire, which means the league will be locked out barring some type of miracle. That means that the Winnipeg Jets and Evander Kane must strike a deal sometime before then, otherwise they cannot negotiate until a new CBA is agreed upon.
On Monday, Kane appeared at an EB Games in Winnipeg to sign autographs during an EA Sports NHL 13 launch event. Reporters would show up and ask him about his talks with the Jets. Long story short, Kane didn’t give them much.
“That’s between my agent and Winnipeg to sort something out,” Kane said. “We’ll see what happens.”
These statements were immediately met with speculation by reporters and angst from fans as these weren’t the “I love this city, I hope we get something done” kind of words they were looking for.
Does it mean Kane wants to leave? It doesn’t necessarily. However, any leverage he’s hoping to maintain by keeping quiet is quickly slipping away as the clock ticks toward the expiration of the current CBA. Many players have re-signed with their respective clubs for fear that the same dollars and long terms won’t come their way in the next CBA.
The owners want to roll back salaries (again) and put a cap on contract length. In their initial proposal, the owners wanted contract terms limited to five years. I’m not sure that the owners will get everything they want in the next CBA, but I would bet on the players coming out on the short end of the stick. That’s why so many of them have been signing contracts and getting their money this week.
If Kane doesn’t sign today, it’s not the end of him in Winnipeg, they just can’t negotiate until a new CBA is reached. The Jets put six years and $29 million on the table for Kane in July. Will he get such an offer in a different CBA?
It looks like Kane is willing to gamble.