When a player is healthy scratched, it means one of two things. In most cases, it’s because the player in question is sitting on the roster bubble, and space needs to be made for those whose roster spots are more secure. Or, someone can get scratched because the head coach is trying to send a message, a call-out that says “you’re bringing the team down, take a seat and learn a lesson.”
If you ask Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane, he dealt with the latter situation this past Wednesday night.
The Jets were in the Windy City a couple days ago to take on the Chicago Blackhawks. Kane, who had been dealing with a lower-body injury, didn’t dress to play that night. For all intents and purposes, everyone just assumed he was still recovering and just wasn’t ready to suit up yet. However, Kane recently claimed that this wasn’t the case at all.
“I felt healthy enough to play,” Kane told reporters on Friday. “The definition of a healthy scratch is a healthy player not playing so that was my interpretation. It’s pretty obvious that’s what it was.”
No gray area there. He says he could’ve played, but instead watched the game from the sidelines. For what it’s worth, coach Claude Noel begs to differ.
“While I respect Evander for his opinion, for me Evander was a coach’s decision,” Noel said. “There is a protocol we follow, and for me it was an injury-related decision. I understand he disagrees. That’s his opinion.”
Well this just seems odd. Kane has been a lightning rod for controversy ever since the Atlanta Thrashers moved up to Winnipeg to become the Jets. Local media seems to take a liking to nitpicking him whenever an opportunity arises. He’s been labeled brash and immature at times, and last season he was called out for not showing up to training camp three days before it actually started. However, most of this critique has been through the media and not his team and coaching staff. Are things starting to bleed over?
It’d be an odd situation. While the Jets have been struggling, Kane is having a relatively decent season so far, with six goals on the year (second on the team behind Bryan Little). However, all we can see is what shows up on the ice. What happens behind closed doors is anyone’s guess.
Kane was back on the ice last night against the Nashville Predators, so for the moment this may have cooled off. Still, this situation may be something to keep an eye on this year.