Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

The Edmonton Oilers dropped yet another game to open up the 2023-24 season. An overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets is not what the team was hoping for after already having pressure on them from a 1-3-0 start. The Oilers blew an early 2-0 lead in what was yet another weak 60-minute performance all around. Something that made fans perk up and listen was during Evander Kane‘s intermission interview where he seemed quite upset about his demotion to the third line and not getting nearly as much ice time as he was getting in the first four games.

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Kane has started his 2023-24 campaign a bit slow, notching just one assist through the first five games. While he’s been playing well physically, he hasn’t been able to find his offensive touch. The Oilers brought Kane in on a one-year deal in January 2022 after a falling out with his former team, the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks had terminated Kane’s contract for COVID-19 protocol violations, and he chose to join the Oilers. Kane scored 22 goals and added 17 assists in his first season with the team, but a bad injury slowed him down in the 2022-23 season. This season, his rough patch of offensive woes has continued.

Kane’s comments could easily have been blown out of proportion last night, but, his tone when responding to the question showed some emotion pointing out he was upset. During the first intermission, when the Oilers were up 2-0, he was asked about the fight he had against Brenden Dillon, and he took a second to think but responded with “I didn’t play much in the first period, so I thought, might as well get into a fight and take seven or eight minutes in the box.”

Evander Kane, Edmonton Oilers (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

For someone to flat-out say he just wanted to spend time in the box, spells out that he wasn’t being used on the ice so he might as well sit down somewhere else. With a lackluster start at both ends of the ice for Kane, his demotion was warranted, but his comments may show signs of a deeper internal issue within the team. Usually, ice time issues get handled behind closed doors and fans never hear about what happened. Also, players don’t usually respond unless it’s a positive response that comes along the lines of “the team just needs to be better, we all need to work harder” rather than mentioning how little time they had spent on the ice.

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Throughout his career, Kane has been an offensive powerhouse and someone many players around the league take notice of and don’t usually mess with physically. With 302 goals and 272 assists for 574 points through 858 career games, it’s no secret that he has the ability to produce in the offensive zone, but he has to find his confidence in a new role. With Connor McDavid unfortunately slated to miss some time, it’s fair to assume Kane will have his chance to redeem himself, and hopefully, he can do so.

Where Do the Oilers Go From Here?

The Oilers need to turn it around, and fast. Fans have begun to hit the panic button and their worries weren’t calmed when the McDavid injury announcement came out. The team is still learning a new system for the 2023-24 season, and they have tons of time to learn it, but they need to start playing as a team.

Kane will likely have an increased role in the Oilers’ next matchup which is Tuesday, Oct. 24 in a battle with the Minnesota Wild. He will have a chance to prove himself after a slow start offensively, and hopefully, he can earn back his confidence and step up for the rest of the season, because the Oilers are going to need his production if they want to have a deep playoff run.

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