SAN JOSE, California – The San Jose Sharks opened the training camp with a big vacuum ahead, where Evander Kane did not participate and had no idea when or if he will return.
The Sharks took the ice for the first time this season Thursday, a day after Kane was cleared by the NHL for allegations of gambling. But as the league is still looking at allegations of physical and sexual abuse from his estranged wife, Kane and the Sharks decided he will not participate in practice until further notice.
“It’s not ideal, but there’s an ongoing investigation from the NHL,” said general manager Doug Wilson. “The focus should be on our group here, the guys who are here today, and the things we can control, but also respect the process of dealing with some very serious allegations and some things that need to be addressed with the right process.”
The Kane saga has hung over the sharks for several weeks after Anna Kane in an Instagram post this summer claimed that Kane bet on NHL games and “obviously threw games to win money.”
It launched an investigation into the league, and the NHL said Wednesday that there was no evidence to back up these allegations and that the investigation “raises doubts about the accuracy of the allegations.”
But Anna Kane also made further allegations this week of sexual and physical assault in an application for a restraining order filed in family court in Santa Clara County.
Kane’s lawyer denied these allegations, but the team said it came to an agreement with Kane that he will not attend the camp until further notice while the league looks into the allegations.
None of the players made available to the media would comment on the details.
“No one knew about anything and no one still knows anything,” defender Erik Karlsson said. “We are here to focus on the things we can control and anything other than that is out of our hands.”
There was also a report this offseason from The Athletic that there was a rift between Kane and his teammates, many of whom did not want him back on the team.
Kane’s teammates said any issues would be addressed privately in the locker room and they were happy with the mindset of the group, which was ready for the start of camp.
“I thought today was a really good day,” said Captain Logan Couture. “When you get to the field, you show up, you play hockey, you work hard. You play for the guy next to you. Everyone who’s here is proud to be a San Jose shark, and we will win for this organization. “
Kane’s absence will be felt on the ice as he was the team’s most consistent forward last season, leading the Sharks with 22 goals and 49 points.
If Kane is unable to play, San Jose will have a hard time reversing the dramatic decline the team has taken the last two seasons after reaching the finals of the Western Conference in 2019.
“We just all play,” defender Brent Burns said. “It’s no different than anything else. At the end of the day, we just make coffee in the morning, get on the field, get ready to play, and you do. I don’t think it’s different than guys getting hurt. “Do not be there to line up. We do not worry about those things. We can not. There are too many other things.”
The Sharks finished last in the Western Conference in 2019-20-firing coach Peter DeBoer in December — and they took only small steps forward last season when they finished near the bottom of the West Division with 49 points in the first full season under Boughner.
They made few big strides in the offseason season without buying the ineffective goalkeeper Martin Jones, acquiring Adin Hill from Arizona in a trade and signing James Reimer for another period with the organization. The Sharks’ .891 save percentage over the last three seasons is the lowest in the NHL.
They also added some depth going forward in Nick Bonino and Andrew Cogliano, but there will still be questions about whether there is enough firepower on the top two lines, which will be an even bigger concern if Kane does not play.