NHL examining Evander Kane's flight to Canada less than 10 days after contracting COVID-19

By Curtis Pashelka

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Evander Kane is being scrutinized by the NHL once again, potentially hindering his ability to sign a contract with a new team in the near future.

The NHL has notified teams around the league that it is looking into the process in which Kane, the former San Jose Sharks forward, crossed the border from the U.S. into Canada on Dec. 29, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet first reported. Bill Daly, the NHL's deputy commissioner, confirmed in an email to this news organization that an inquiry is underway.

Kane, while a member of the Barracuda, the Sharks' AHL affiliate, tested positive for COVID-19 on Dec. 21 and entered that league's protocol, which stated at the time that symptomatic individuals must isolate themselves for 10 days after a positive test. If asymptomatic, a player can continue to be tested daily and would be subject to an early exit from isolation with two consecutive negative PCR tests.

The Canadian government states that individuals who have symptoms consistent with COVID-19, or who have tested positive for the coronavirus in the last 15 days, may not enter Canada by air. Those restrictions are also in place for Canadian citizens, which Kane is.

Part of the reason why the Sharks terminated what was left of Kane's seven-year, $49 million contract was that they believed he did not have medical clearance to fly and that he violated AHL protocols. The NHL Players' Association has disputed that conclusion and filed a grievance on Kane's behalf shortly after the Sharks terminated his contract on Sunday.

The NHL's latest inquiry into Kane could hamper his ability to sign with a new team, Friedman reported, as other clubs await the league's findings.

The Edmonton Oilers are believed to be among the teams with a serious interest in Kane, who led the Sharks with 49 points in 56 games in 2020-2021. Other teams reportedly in the mix for Kane's services include the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

The possibility of Kane joining the Oilers remained a hot topic Wednesday in Edmonton, as coach Dave Tippett and star center Connor McDavid were both asked about the embattled free agent.

Oilers general manager Ken Holland said Tuesday that he would be willing to give a player like Kane, who was suspended for 21 games near the start of the season for violating NHL COVID-19 protocols, another chance.

"I think both sides are still doing their due diligence," Tippett said. "I know Ken and his staff have talked about it. Ken mentioned to me (Tuesday) that they were looking at it. From what I read, Evander is doing his due diligence on us too, so it's probably premature."

Asked if he felt Kane could be a disruption to the Oilers' dressing room, McDavid said, "I don't think that's a bridge we need to really cross until something is more official. Right now, it's all speculation."

It is unclear how long the NHL's newest inquiry into Kane will last.

Dan Milstein, Kane's agent, did not immediately return an email seeking comment about whether it will prevent Kane from signing a new deal by this weekend as was hoped earlier this week.

The NHL opened three investigations into Kane last year, including ones regarding allegations made by his estranged wife that involved him gambling on NHL games, as well as domestic violence and sexual assault.

The NHL would announce that it could not find any evidence to support Anna Kane's allegations. However, in a separate investigation, the league did find in October that Kane violated NHL COVID-19 protocols for submitting a fake vaccination card and handed him a 21-game suspension that ended in late November.

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