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Benching in Vancouver, missed practice cloud Kane's future with Jets

02/05/2015 01:49 EST | Updated 04/07/2015 05:59 EDT
WINNIPEG - Evander Kane is back in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Kane was missing from Winnipeg's practice Thursday two days after he was a healthy scratch for Winnipeg's 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver. Head coach Paul Maurice said Kane was seeing team doctors for an undisclosed ailment that has been bugging him all season.

The Jets placed Kane on the injured reserve list retroactive to Monday, meaning he'll miss at least Friday's game against the Chicago Blackhawks and Sunday's against the Colorado Avalanche. Kane, whose injury is undisclosed, would be eligible to return for Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Wild.

But speculation about Kane's long-term future with the club remains and has intensified since he didn't dress for Tuesday's game in his hometown. In his post-game news conference Tuesday, Maurice said it was a "coach's decision" and wouldn't elaborate.

He didn't shed anymore light on Thursday despite a Winnipeg Free Press report that Kane was benched because he broke the team's dress code by wearing a track suit instead of a suit to a team meeting.

"I know that when I come out and say coach's decision that I open all of us up to a tremendous amount of speculation, and I can live with that," Maurice said.

A source confirmed Thursday evening that Kane had a run-in with teammates the day of the Vancouver game that included Dustin Byfuglien throwing Kane's track suit into the shower. The source said Kane was not on the team bus to the arena for the game.

According to reports, team officials could not reach Kane until an hour before game time, when he said he would not be playing.

Kane's agent, Craig Oster, said his camp would comment on the situation Friday.

Distractions aren't something the once-surging Jets need right now as they fight for a playoff spot. They currently hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference, two points up on the Canucks. Vancouver, however, has played four less games.

Winnipeg went into the NHL all-star break riding a season-high five-game winning streak but followed that up with a season-high five-game slide, getting just one point from the loss to Vancouver.

Kane's benching caused Maurice to juggle his lineup, with Byfuglien transforming back to forward from defence. The Jets' all-star said late last month he'd rather remain on the blue-line.

"Obviously not the ideal spot I want to be in right now," Byfuglien said Thursday. "But we're a team and we needed a guy to fill that spot, so I'm the lucky guy."

Kane has 10 goals and 22 points in 37 games this season. He also missed a game in Toronto last season after Maurice benched him for another undisclosed reason.

The 23-year-old has also raised eyebrows with photos he posted on social media showing him talking into a stack of cash instead of a cellphone and doing a pushup with a bundle of bucks on his back.

While Kane's teammates were keeping what they knew about the latest transgression in-house, they did acknowledge everyone has to follow the rules.

"There's a standard that everybody needs to live up to," forward Blake Wheeler said. "We're professionals. We make a lot of money.

"We're expected to uphold a certain standard and that's the code we live by. That's just the way it is. If you don't like it, then there's other places to go. This is the way we do things."

He was also asked if someone who breaks the rules is letting his teammates down.

"Yeah, you don't want people breaking rules. That's just the way it goes," Wheeler said.

Byfuglien said he wasn't in his "ideal spot" having to play forward, but he'll do his job.

As for Kane's latest incident affecting his relationship with his teammates, Byfuglien said they're a tight group.

"It is what it is," he said. "It's just among us. It's things that we've just got to handle ourselves."

Captain Andrew Ladd was more blunt.

"Whatever happens in this room, we deal with it our way and it's no one else's business pretty much," Ladd said.

Note: The Jets recalled forward Patrice Cormier from St. John's of the American Hockey League.

— With files from Canadian Press reporter Stephen Whyno.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version stated Kane missed a game in Toronto this season. In fact, he missed that game last season.

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