San Jose Sharks’ trade deadline acquisition Evander Kane had his hearing with the NHL Department of Player Safety today and the result was what many expected. Kane has been suspended for one game and will miss Game Two of the Sharks’ second round series against the Vegas Golden Knights. The incident in question was a cross-check to the head area of the Knights’ Pierre-Edouard Bellemare that cost Kane a five-minute major penalty, during which Vegas scored the final two goals in their 7-0 blowout, and a game misconduct. As if that wasn’t enough, Kane will now be absent for the Sharks as they look to even the series on the road. The rationale of the league was as follows (video):
“Kane delivers two cross-checks to Bellemare – one to his arm and a second to his head, which drops Bellemare to the ice. This is cross-checking… This cross-check occurs well after the whistle is blown and serves no purpose other than as a strike to an opponent’s head. This is not a hockey play.”
Player Safety continues to dole out suspensions this postseason, but have been measured and consistent in their punitive actions. While Kane’s cross-check came after the play and appeared more purposeful, it was not dissimilar from the cross-check by the Winnipeg Jet’s Josh Morrissey to the head area of Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal, which also cost Morrisey a one-game suspension in the first-round. Both plays occurred in front of the net, which Player Safety acknowledged in both reviews is an area of contact, but both were seen not as accidental contact, but as purposeful punishment. While it’s fair to say that Kane’s was worse because the whistle had blown and it was the second of two checks, it’s also clear that Kane’s check was far less brutal than the one Morrisey planted on Staal.
Kane has been an offensive force since arriving in San Jose, racking up 14 points, including nine goals, in 17 games to close out the regular season and adding three goals and an assist in the Sharks’ first round sweep of the Anaheim Ducks. His knack for finding the back of the net will be sorely missed for a Sharks team that was unable to beat Marc-Andre Fleury in Game One. Kane will have to be ready to play productive – and clean – hockey when the series returns to San Jose if the Sharks want to knock off the Golden Knights.