Thursday, March 21, 2013

Evander Kane -- Always Competitive and Fiery

By Larry Wigge

When you look at Evander Kane, there's a neat little competitive nature and fiery attitude that comes out at you.

It comes from his Perry, his dad, who played collegiate hockey before taking a stab at amateur boxing and serving as a person trainer in Vancouver.

The Elder Kane always had a way to get into the kid's mind -- with the best for Evander in the long run.

"We would always have a race of about 100 yards before each season," Evander reported.  

Perry would always win. 

"I think I beat my dad before my second year of junior," the 6-2, 195-pound said with a cocky confidence. "I said, If I could beat him before he turned 50 it would mean I was ready for the NHL."

Oh, there was one handicap Perry had put on this competition. Another stipulation put on by the elder Kane to keep his streak alive.

Said Evander, "He was racing me with no hockey equipment ... while I did."

Later that year, Evander Kane was drafted fourth overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He became the highest drafted black player.

Not just a black player, but one who could those unique guys who can play in any situation, whether you need a goal or a hit or a defensive play, it's in his repertoire. He not only goes to the net and competes very hard, but he doesn't play with fear -- and has an edge to his game.

"In my reports, I don't often write 'total package,' " said New York Islanders director of scouting Ken Morrow. "I'd write it about Kane."

Last season, with the Winnipeg Jets, the power forward broke through with 30 goals -- making him the NHL's youngest player to reach the 30-goal milepost. In this compressed season, he poked home his 12th goal at 7:19 to play in the Jets 3-1 win over Boston March 19

There is more to this special family. Evander's, mom Sheri, was a professional volleyball player. Leonard Kane, his uncle, is a member of the Candian Ball Hockey Hall of Fame. His cousin, Dwayne Provo, played in the Canadian Football League for seven years and spent one season with the New England Patriots of the National Football League. Another cousin, Kirk Johnson, boxed for Canada at the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona and later fought John Ruiz for the 2002 World Boxing Association Heavyweight title.

"You know what?" said Perry Kane. "Coming from a small black community and watching my grandparents struggle to raise 18 children and then seeing my father raise his five children -- just to see that evolve to this point.

"I don't think anyone in our family thought that we would ever be here with hockey. Especially hockey. Hockey of all sports. I can't describe the feeling of how thankful we are to go out and have this opportunity to prove to the world."

"My dad always worked on my skating stride," said Evander. "He said as long as you can skate and shoot -- there will be a team looking for you."

Said Perry, "From the time I started working with him and showing him how to do things, he never got tired. He'd skate in circles and never complained about practices or drills. And he kept getting better. He's always been a hard worker -- and he's always tried to be the best he can be." 

So, you might not be confused. Kane's name comes from the Atlanta-based boxer Evander Kane.

But, it was his mother, Sherri, who picked out the name. Not hisfather, Perry, was an amateur boxer. Evander's father and grandfather were big Holyfield fans.

Joe Sakic was Kane's favorite player growing up. He liked the Colorado Avalanche and also was fond of Peter Forsberg.

"Now, I really like Jarome Iginla," Kane said, he also has had to challenge himself to being black. "He's a great goal-scorer and definitely one of my favorite players overall."

The Jets have no one else like Kane, a big, powerful player with a cannon for a shot and a nose for the net. He's a 40- or 50-goal scorer waiting to happen. He's also a superstar in the making with the potential to have all of Winnipeg at his feet.

Evander's in line to be the next in the line of beloved Winnipeg hockey players, following behind Bobby Hull and Dale Hawerchuck and Teemu Selanne.

"He's physical, you notice him and he shoots the puck a ton," says coach Claude Noel. "He finds ways to find the back of the net."

Rick Dudley spotted Kane with the Vancouver Giants. Dudley, the former Atlanta GM, says Evander still jumps out at you.

"Scores in a variety of different ways," he said. "Great speed. He's a much stronger kid than when we drafted him."

John Anderson, who was an assistant coach in Atlanta, swears by Kane. 

"He's going to be an all-star in this league," he says. "He still makes some young mistakes, but he's sound defensively and he can fly. He will be a big part of our organization for years to come."

Take it from his current coach, Claude Noel.

"The more he gets into the game the more he skates the more he seems to be dangerous," he said. "It might be the best I've seen him play. I mean, he's shooting the puck so well. You've got to shoot when you've got bullets like he has."

And Evander Kane certainly has the bullets.

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