Evander Kane’s agent denies surgery conspiracy during media spin tour

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WINNIPEG, CANADA - JANUARY 18: Evander Kane #9 of the Winnipeg Jets leans over the bench as he looks on during second period action against the Arizona Coyotes on January 18, 2015 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)
WINNIPEG, CANADA - JANUARY 18: Evander Kane #9 of the Winnipeg Jets leans over the bench as he looks on during second period action against the Arizona Coyotes on January 18, 2015 at the MTS Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

Having dabbled on the dark arts of media relations earlier in my career, I can sympathize with Craig Oster, the agent for Winnipeg Jets forward Evander Kane.

His task on Friday was a thankless one: Trying to convince the hockey world that all-too convenient timing was in fact coincidence, and trying to spray sunshine all over his client’s fractured relationship with his team and his teammates.

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I’ve listened to two of his interviews, on sports radio in Ottawa and Toronto, and read another, and the spin is strong with this one.

Here’s Craig Oster, in various venues, on Evander Kane having season-ending surgery right after a locker room incident with a teammate and a healthy scratch from his coach.

Why is Evander Kane having surgery now?

"He's playing through a number of different ailments as well. Had a couple of different fractures he's worked through. … With that progression comes greater risk of more damage and greater risk of it not being repaired properly, if there is greater damage." – Oster to Ken Wiebe, Winnipeg Sun.

“Prior to the game in Vancouver, I know factually, Evander was starting to have more problems with his shoulder. There was a game in Philadelphia two games before where it came out of its joint a few times. It had been happening more since Christmas.” – Oster to TSN 1200 in Ottawa

“He suffered an injury to his shoulder last season. He was given an assessment in the summer. It was determined with the same doctors that he would try to rehab the injury. … The injury had deteriorated, and surgery was required. There was no choice involved.” Oster to Sportsnet 590.

Did Evander Kane decide to have the surgery? Who put him on IR?

“The team decides to place the player on IR. After consultation with Dr. McDonald, and some further MRI imaging, it was decided that surgery was required. Dr. McDonald filed with the NHL to say that Evander was disabled.” – Oster to Sportsnet 590

OK, but by having it now, it totally looks like this is a response to all the stuff that went down with the healthy scratch and the incident with Dustin Byfuglien.

"What people (are saying) and the speculation that I've seen, that it (surgery) has some extra meaning to it is ridiculous." – Oster to Wiebe. 

“I think it’s ridiculous. I don’t think any person, let alone player, wants to have surgery. This is a significant surgery. There’s no impetus here to have surgery other than completely health related. There’s no other factor that goes into it.” – Oster to Sportsnet 590.

So what happened with that incident involving Dustin Byfuglien?

“I don’t know the details of what transpired on Tuesday. … I think the speculation leads to more speculation. I’ve yet to hear factually from any of the participants. I’ve heard a little from Evander, which I’m not willing to disclose.” – Oster to Sportsnet 590

“I don’t think anybody knows what happened this week. There hasn’t been one person who was involved in anything that may have happened that’s spoken. All that’s been reported is speculation. Was there was some sort of incident? There sure was, or else Paul Maurice wouldn’t have gone through the decision that he did.” – Oster to TSN 1200

"All that's happened has been speculated. I don't know the facts. So, I have nothing to add.” – Oster to Ken Wiebe.

OK … so what happened that night before the game? Did Evander Kane fail to show up to the arena? Did he tell the team he wasn’t playing?

“I believe he was told not to go to the arena.” – Oster to Sportsnet 590

(Later in the interview)

“I don’t know specifically the course of events, and who said what when, but I believe he was told not to come to the arena.” – Oster to Sportsnet 590.

Alright, so what about the future? Has Evander Kane now or has he ever requested a trade?

"That question has been asked a hundred different times. At the end of it, the answer always is, (Kane) is a Jet." – Oster to Ken Wiebe.

“That question has been asked time and time and time again. It really doesn’t matter what a player says or doesn’t say. He’s under contract, and he’s played under that contract. Once he overcomes that injury if he’s a Winnipeg Jet, I imagine he’ll play hard for them again.” – Oster to TSN 1200

OK, so after this six months of rehab, and despite all of this, do you actually believe Evander Kane can and will remain a member of the Winnipeg Jets?

"Until his contract runs out or until he's traded, he's a Winnipeg Jet. He's played a lot of games for the Jets. He's played hard." – Oster to Ken Wiebe

“I don’t see it as an issue.” – Oster to TSN 1200

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And that’s why agents get paid the big bucks, folks. 

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