Even in the midst of a career year in terms of per-game scoring, Evander Kane’s 2020-21 campaign was dominated by off-ice issues. A bankruptcy filing and its ongoing proceeding, whispers of locker room discord, a divorce playing out in the public eye, and finally allegations that he bet on hockey has made Kane the most infamous name in the NHL right now. And unfortunately all of that noise may not be going away this season. A.J. Perez of Front Office Sports reports that the NHL’s investigation into Kane has stalled and a decision may not be possible before the San Jose Sharks open training camp, if Kane was going to be invited anyhow.
Kane’s estranged wife, who initially made the allegations that her husband had gambled on his own games, has been uncooperative with the NHL’s outside investigators. Anna Kane has been unavailable for interview, making it impossible for the investigation that centers around her claims to continue. The NHL will not wait around forever, but need to do their due diligence when it comes to something as serious as a player betting on his own contests and impacting the integrity of the game. While Kane had previously stated that these allegations were not true and a ploy by his wife to ruin his career – a claim that gains validity the longer she avoids the investigation – the NHL will be hesitant to take Kane at his word without any corroborating evidence.
Perez does note that the NHL analyzed betting trends for Sharks games this past season and found no abnormalities. While this does not eliminate the possibility that Kane was betting on his games, or even on other NHL action, it could be all that the league can lean on if not other information has been discovered and Kane’s wife will not comply with the investigation.
Meanwhile, the Sharks have to decide how to deal with the situation, both if Kane is still under investigation when training camp begins or, even more intriguing, if he has been cleared. If the NHL rules that Kane did not bet on hockey, it doesn’t totally wipe the slate clean. He is still in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings related to gambling debts and has had other ugly allegations made against him by his wife (and vice-versa). All of this has certainly contributed to the numerous reports that there are many in the Sharks locker room who are unhappy with Kane’s presence and the organization’s continued support of the polarizing player. While none of his other off-ice issues beyond the NHL’s investigation will keep him from playing, there is serious question as to whether it will be in San Jose. Even at the top of his game, Kane likely lacks much if any value on the trade market right now, but the Sharks may need to do whatever they can to move on. A stalled investigation will make it near impossible to do that though.