Evander Kane is back with the Oilers, ready to build on last season’s success

Edmonton – Evander Kane arrived in Edmonton this past January, and sat in the same hot seat as Jake Virtanen on Monday. He was asked many times and in different ways “why” should the Edmonton Oilers give you a second chance?

“I think everyone in this room has made a lot of mistakes,” Kane said that day. “It’s not documented. It’s not publicly registered. They haven’t been questioned.”

We wrote “was” in our columnLike Joey Chestnut saying, ‘Hey, we all have weird sausages…’

Kane promised that day that he wasn’t the guy being portrayed there, and that he would prove it by being a good teammate and productive player. And you have to admit, he kept both of those promises — the second ever. He scored 22 goals in 43 regular season games, and another 13 in 15 playoff games.

By all accounts, Kane was a typical teammate. According to general manager Ken Holland, in exit interviews, he recommended all of his key players re-sign Kane, a reunification that seemed impossible between a cash-strapped club and a player who had just scored 35 goals in 58 games.

More than once, we thought there was no way the two strikers could sign Kane.

“You’re right,” Kane said on Wednesday, the day of the opening day of training camps across the National Hockey League. He left Edmonton last spring thinking the same thing – there’s no way back.

But then Duncan Keith retired, and that freed up more than $5 million in coverage space. Then Zack Kassian was traded, and suddenly the Oilers had space and Kane’s phone was ringing.

“A hat is a bad thing for a player,” Kane said. “Especially good.” “But now it’s like, ‘This is a great opportunity. This group, this organization. You know, top to bottom with Kenny (Netherlands) and Jay (Woodcroft), Conor (McDavid) and (Leon Drystle) and these guys. A chance to really compete for the Stanley Cup and hopefully raise one here at a Canadian team.

“These are all things that, as a kid, I’ve always wanted to do. I had the opportunity this off-season because I’m hoping to start that. I wanted to be a part of it.”

The only comparison between Kane and Virtanen is that they both had to deal with legal issues away from the game, and even those aren’t quite the same. As players, Kane is Rembrandt to paint Virtanen by numbers.

Kane is fast enough to skate alongside McDavid, with the gloves on to bury pucks at 0.6 goals per game last season. And bit him? It’s still sharp enough to intimidate, and ward off McDavid’s flies the way we thought Milan Lucic might.

“I integrated myself into this team,” said Kane, who signed a four-year, $20.5 million contract to play in Edmonton until his 35th birthday, and immediately bought a house here. “Honestly, since I landed at the airport in January, everyone has treated me really well. The audience and the community have been fantastic, and that has continued to rise over time. It was no different than coming back for the class opening.”

Full disclosure: Written last January That fault was not signing Kane to a half-season contract. You said the mistake was giving him a free agent contract in July, because his main thing is to get comfortable and then go off the rails.

So, let’s see who is right and who is wrong. I feel wrong so far, but the book about Kane’s time in Edmonton is still being written.

Kane is entering this season as the man to hold the most sought-after winger position in the NHL: He’ll start the season and could play 82 games alongside McDavid.

Now he has settled down a necklace Complaining with San Joe Sharks, his focus can now be on the ice.

“I’m glad it’s over and over,” he said when asked. “I won’t go into much, but it will probably be in the Netflix doc when I’m done.”

So we asked him about Virtanen, and what he might direct his younger teammate to, as Virtanen tries to restart his NHL career in a trial with the Oilers. Virtanen was brought to trial in the British Columbia Supreme Court in July for sexual assault in connection with a 2017 incident in Vancouver. Virtanen claimed in court that the meeting was consensual and that a jury of his colleagues found him not guilty on July 26.

Some guys will raise this question, but not Ken. He delved into Virtanen, using his personal experience as a guide.

“He won in court,” Kane began. “You know, when you’re dealing with difficult situations, there are a lot of things people like to speculate about. People like to pretend they know about them. People like to pretend they have insight, and a lot of that is BS sometimes.”

He continued, “It’s funny how time and letting things go, and how attitudes and opinions change.” “How time allows attitudes and opinions to change, but at the same time, everyone has their own. I can donate $5 million to charity today, and someone will find something wrong with it. That’s just the way social media is, precisely, and the age that We live it today.

“As far as Jake, you know, he knows what he did. He knows what he didn’t. And it was left to him to deal with.”

What we do know is Kane’s performance on the ice last season. He was the best deal in the NHL.

What awaits us in the future?

On the ice, I think I know.