BUFFALO – Evander Kane sounded guarded. When the Sabres winger was asked about his turbulent summer, which included charges following an incident at a local bar, he offered only a short reply or deflected the question.
“I’m not going to say too much,” Kane said this morning inside KeyBank Center after veterans reported to training camp for physicals. “I’m here, I’m in camp.”
Kane, 25, said he has “always felt” he needs to walk the straight and narrow line.
“Obviously, these situations are what they are, they happen to athletes or people in a position such as myself,” he said. “Those are things you just have to deal with, kind of come with the territory. In saying that, you have to be a little bit more aware and kind of put yourself on a higher pedestal than you think you are.”
Kane was charged with one misdemeanor count of criminal trespass and four counts of non-criminal harassment in connection with an incident at a downtown bar June 24. His next court appearance is Oct. 31.
Three women allege Kane grabbed them by the arms, hair or neck, according to Buffalo police.
Kane’s dealing with his second off-ice legal incident since joining the Sabres last year. In December, he was under investigation for an alleged sex offense at a downtown hotel. He was cleared of wrongdoing in March. He is now countersuing that woman.
The Sabres also benched Kane for a game in February after he documented his partying at the NBA All-Star Game on social media and missed practice the next day.
Kane said he has “been focusing on hockey all summer.”
“I haven’t really put any thought or emphasis on the other stuff,” he said. “I’ve just kind of narrowed my focus and focused on hockey and my training.”
He also said: “I turned 25 on Aug. 2. I’m getting older, I’m maturing just as everybody else is. I think every day you mature as a person. As a player, that’s kind of a product of your work ethic, to your craft. It’s something I’ve done my entire life and have continued to do throughout the summer.”
Sabres captain Brian Gionta said he hopes Kane “wants to stay a little more low profile around things.”
Kane arrived with baggage from the Winnipeg Jets, who traded him after his teammates reportedly threw his tracksuit in the shower.
The Sabres offered Kane a fresh start. Does he feel like he blew it already?
“No, I mean, for me, I’m just focused on this season,” he said.
Sabres coach Dan Bylsma and general manager Tim Murray were clearly irked with Kane when they spoke to the media in July. Murray said he planned to sit down and talk to Kane about his behavior.
Kane, however, said he hasn’t spoken to management. He said the NHL hasn’t talked to him, either.
Does Kane think he needs to represent the Sabres logo better?
“I think I do it pretty well on the ice,” he said. “I give everything I have on the ice. I think off the ice, like I said, these things unfortunately happen more often than not. They’re only becoming more and more relevant every day if you look around the other sports. For me, it’s just trying to stay out of that kind of stuff and picking my spots better.”
When camp opened a year ago, Kane boldly said he wanted to score 40 or 50 goals. He finished with 20. He wouldn’t set a goal for this season.