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A History of Evander Kane Talking About Racism, Part 2

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Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks
Credit: ESPN

This is Part 2 of a two-part timeline, tracing Evander Kane’s statements about racism throughout his career. On Thursday, we touched on Kane’s formative years in Vancouver, being drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers, and growing pains with the Winnipeg Jets.

Now, we’re going to explore his years with the Buffalo Sabres, and finally, look at his time with the San Jose Sharks, up to the murder of George Floyd.

Buffalo

In June 2015, Officer Eric Casebolt was video recorded restraining Dajerria Becton, a 15-year-old African-American girl in a swimsuit, with unnecessary force in McKinney, Texas. Casebolt then drew his handgun on unarmed teenage witnesses.

This appears to be Kane’s first-ever public comment on police brutality against black people.

In December 2015, Kane was the subject of a sexual assault investigation. This was just four months after Buffalo native Patrick Kane was accused of rape. Neither athlete faced criminal charges — in Evander’s case, according to Erie County District Attorney Michael Flaherty, “No charge will be filed because there is no evidence to support the filing of a criminal filing of a criminal action.”

That said, here’s a fact: According to a 2010 study, just two to 10 percent of rape allegations are estimated to be false.

Consider this too: I think it’s fair to say that a professional athlete’s celebrity and wealth might make them a target for accusations, but it’s also fair to say that a professional athlete’s celebrity and wealth might help them get off from such accusations, whether it’s from popular support that results in victim blaming or simply being able to hire the best possible legal aid.

The Undefeated wrote in 2019: “Kane, who maintains his innocence, thinks the fact that he’s black and the woman who sued him is white had everything to do with some hateful social media comments he received about the allegations.”

Kane said then: “It’s unfortunate that people do create these automatic opinions based on a headline.”

He added a year later:

It’s worth noting too that Evander was also accused of sexual harassment in July 2016. Charges were dismissed after a plea agreement.

I’m drawing no conclusions. But all this matters when attempting to view Evander Kane in full.

With Kane approaching unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2018, the Sabres traded the winger, along with his highs and lows, to the San Jose Sharks before the Trade Deadline.

San Jose

None other than Willie O’Ree, the NHL’s first black player, dropped the ceremonial first puck during Evander Kane’s first game with the San Jose Sharks on February 27, 2018.

Two weeks later, Kane tweeted out this picture of he, O’Ree, and future Hockey Diversity Alliance founder Joel Ward:

The push forward wouldn’t come yet though, as Kane was still dogged by worn stereotypes. Besides this Instagram user, Kane revealed that during Game Four of the second round against the Colorado Avalanche, a fan had shouted the same thing to him while he sat in the penalty box.

“There is focus on racism in football, basketball, and baseball. But in the Hockey world it’s easier to ignore, dismiss and forget because let’s face the facts hockey is a white sport,” Kane wrote. “Time to notice it, and give it the attention it’s (sic) deserves. The old way of thinking is done!”

A couple weeks later, Kane used this ESPN discussion about Cam Newton and Eli Manning to illustrate how black athletes are portrayed compared to white athletes:

Early in the 2019-20 season, Kane took the time to visit Oakland Ice:

This visit affected Kane enough to tweet this a week later:

In January 2020, Kane wondered aloud why the official NHL Twitter hadn’t recognized Martin Luther King Jr. Day yet:

The NHL failed to tweet about King Jr. on MLK Day, choosing instead to honor Snopp Dogg:

Kane spoke about meeting the San Jose African-American Community Service Agency before a late February game:

As of March 2020, Kane appeared to still be wholeheartedly in support of the NHL’s Hockey Is for Everyone initiative:

“I’m privileged to be an ambassador for Hockey Is for Everyone, especially as a minority,” Kane said.

Two months later, however, Akim Aliu’s powerful “Hockey Is Not for Everyone” piece clearly moved Kane:

George Floyd’s murder on May 25, 2020 would change everything:

A couple days later, Kane targeted this Toronto Sun cover, which made light of rapper Houdini’s murder:

If 2020 indeed proves to be a watershed year for the eradication of racism in hockey, Kane’s appearance on “First Take” will be among the seminal moments, along with Akim Aliu outing Bill Peters, the formation of the Hockey Diversity Alliance, and NHL players black and white banding together to postpone Thursday and Friday’s playoff games:

Like Aliu breaking hockey’s code of silence by naming Peters, Kane broke it by publicly naming his sport’s biggest star in an impassioned plea.

Fittingly, Kane tweeted this the next day:

Nine days later, Kane, Aliu, Ward, Matt Dumba, Chris Stewart, Trevor Daley, and Wayne Simmonds announced the formation of The Hockey Diversity Alliance.

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