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Former Jets star Evander Kane says return to Winnipeg "just another game"

WINNIPEG — Evander Kane is downplaying the hype surrounding his first game against the Jets since he was traded from Winnipeg to Buffalo last February.

The Sabres forward says facing his former teammates Sunday afternoon will be no big deal.

"Just another game," Kane told reporters after his team's practice Saturday.

The Winnipeg crowd, known for its loud and creative heckling of some visiting players, may not see it that way.

In a nod to one of the reported controversial incidents involving Kane last season, there's even been a Twitter movement encouraging fans to wear tracksuits to the game.

"I have no reaction to that," said Kane, who was the focal point of a multi-player trade last Feb. 11.

He and defenceman Zach Bogosian and the rights to goalie Jason Kasdorf were shipped to Buffalo in exchange for defenceman Tyler Myers, veteran winger Drew Stafford, Joel Armia, Brendan Lemieux and a 2015 first-round pick. That pick was forward Jack Roslovic, who's with Miami University (Ohio).

Rumours had ramped up about Kane's future with the Jets a week before the trade.

On Feb. 3, he was a healthy scratch for the club's overtime loss in his hometown of Vancouver. A report surfaced that Kane had violated team rules by showing up to a meeting that day in a tracksuit, and that Dustin Byfuglien later threw those clothes into a cold tub or shower.

After returning home, it was announced Kane was having season-ending shoulder surgery and the trade was made.

Kane said he's concentrating now on helping the Sabres (15-22-4) end their six-game losing streak. Winnipeg (19-19-3) is trying to gain some ground as it plays nine of its next 10 games at home.

Asked how hostile he thinks the crowd will be Sunday, Kane replied: "I don't know. I guess we'll all find out together."

Jets winger Blake Wheeler anticipated a loud crowd.

"People will probably try to razz him a little bit," Wheeler said. "Our crowd does a pretty good job of that. Those are all things you expect when you come into our building."

Byfuglien echoed Kane in saying Sunday's meeting is "just like any other game." He didn't have an opinion on fans possibly wearing tracksuits.

"They can do whatever they want. I'm going to be putting on a jersey and just doing my job," Byfuglien said.

Kane caused headlines during and after his four years with the Jets.

While with Winnipeg, he posted photos to Twitter showing himself holding a stack of money as a phone to his ear and doing pushups with similar stacks on his back.

Last month, The Buffalo News reported that Buffalo police were investigating a sex crime allegation against Kane.

Notes: Jets centre Mark Scheifele and forward Alexander Burmistrov didn't take part in Saturday's practice. Head coach Paul Maurice said he expects Burmistrov will play, but Scheifele's lower-body injury makes him a game-time decision.

Judy Owen, The Canadian Press

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