Nik Antropov reflects on Evander Kane's tenure in Winnipeg: 'Nobody had time for him'

The 14-year NHL veteran said Kane wouldn't listen to anybody, which led to the famous confrontation with teammate Dustin Byfuglien.

Nik Antropov and Evander Kane were teammates for four seasons split between Winnipeg and Atlanta. (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

It would have been an eye-opening experience to be a fly on the wall during the Winnipeg Jets’ 2014-15 season.

After missing the playoffs for a third time since returning to Manitoba, the Jets opened the 2014-15 season with a new head coach, Paul Maurice, who led the franchise to its first postseason berth since moving from Atlanta. But not everyone got along in the dressing room.

Evander Kane, in particular, reportedly butted heads with several teammates during his tenure in Winnipeg, which spanned four seasons from 2011-15. He was also difficult to deal with on the Atlanta Thrashers, according to former NHL forward Nik Antropov.

Antropov, teammates with Kane from 2009-13, discussed his previous encounters with the Edmonton Oilers winger on The Cam & Strick Podcast on Wednesday, recalling the famous incident when Dustin Byfuglien threw Kane's clothes in the team's shower.

“He was an 18-year-old, coming from the Western Hockey League, making all this (sic) million dollars,” Antropov said. “So he was different back then. He wouldn’t listen to anybody, so I guess that’s why the whole incident happened. Like Buff threw his sh*t in the f***ing hot tub and stuff.

“So he was just on his own all the time.”

Kane allegedly wore a tracksuit to a pre-game meeting while the Jets were on the road in Vancouver in February 2015, which he later clarified was a jacket-and-jeans outfit. Still, it didn’t meet the requirements of the team's dress code, prompting Byfuglien to confront his teammate.

According to Kane, the incident sent him "over the edge." He ended up sitting out the game against the Canucks after reportedly missing the team's bus to Rogers Arena and skipping a pre-game meeting without notifying his coaches, who eventually reached him an hour before puck drop and were informed he wouldn't be showing up.

At the time, Antropov said he attempted to show Kane the ropes of doing things the right way, but no matter how much he persisted, the 2019 fourth overall pick simply refused to listen.

“Now, I guess he changed. He grew up [and] he’s got a family now,” Antropov continued. “So it’s different now. But he was just a young f**king punk to me. That was my 11th, 12th year in the league. So I tried to help.

“He wouldn’t f**king listen back then. So no one really had time for him back in the day.”

In the end, that incident proved to be the final straw for Kane, causing him to request a trade — something he did at least once a season with the Jets. Kane was ultimately traded to the Buffalo Sabres later that month.

After two and a half seasons in Buffalo, Kane was traded to the San Jose Sharks, where he would spend the next four seasons.

Kane also reportedly clashed with teammates in San Jose before having his contract terminated for violating the NHL and AHL's COVID-19 protocol, which earned him a 21-game suspension. Kane eventually signed a one-year deal with the Oilers last January and inked a four-year deal in the offseason to remain with the team.

The 31-year-old, who returned from a horrific wrist injury earlier this month, has been a model citizen since landing in Edmonton.

Kane has five goals and 13 points while averaging 19:05 of ice time across 17 games with the Oilers this season. He missed Wednesday’s contest versus the Columbus Blue Jackets due to personal reasons.

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