Evander Kane denies rift with San Jose Sharks teammates, says he 'didn't lose any sleep' over gambling probe

Evander Kane says there's a "good plan in place" for his return to the NHL, following his first practice with the San Jose Sharks' minor league affiliate on Tuesday.

Kane, 30, completed a 21-game suspension for violating the league's COVID-19 protocols. According to multiple sources, the suspension was due to Kane's submission of a fake vaccination card to the NHL and the Sharks.

He was sent through waivers on Nov. 28 and assigned to the AHL San Jose Barracuda after no team claimed him. While the Sharks continued a five-game road trip in New Jersey, Kane wore a bright yellow jersey in his first practice with the Barracuda on San Jose's practice rink.

Kane said he's leaving it up to the Sharks and his new agent, Dan Milstein of Gold Star Sports, to work out the next steps of his NHL career. The winger is signed through the 2024-25 season with a $7 million cap hit. It's widely expected that the Sharks, or a third trade partner, would have to pick up part of that annual salary to facilitate a trade. Kane also has a limited no-trade clause.

"I look forward to whatever is to come here in the next week or so," he said.

As for the suspension, Kane wouldn't elaborate on the vaccination card scandal.

"You'll have to refer to the NHL statement. I served my time, did my 21 games, and now I'm back," he said, adding that he is now fully vaccinated.

The suspension was only part of the controversy surrounding Kane in the offseason. The NHL investigated allegations of domestic assault made by his estranged wife, Anna Kane, in a divorce filing, and said they "could not be substantiated."

Anna Kane also accused him of betting on NHL games and influencing the outcomes of Sharks games for his own financial benefit. The NHL investigated those claims and found no evidence that Evander Kane had bet on hockey, which is prohibited by league rules. Kane said the accusations were "obviously" false.

"I didn't lose any sleep over it. It was definitely not great to be associated with that at the time. But they investigated me heavily, interviewed a bunch of different people and found what they found, which is nothing," Kane said of the gambling investigation. "Anybody who's played with me or coached me knows how competitive I am, so that would probably be the last thing that anyone would suspect."

The Sharks did not bring Kane to their training camp before the 21-game suspension removed him from the roster to start the season. Multiple reports have indicated that Sharks players did not want Kane back in their locker room. Kane said he was surprised to hear that.

"I don't think you're going to have a group of people for 150 or 160 days get along perfectly, but I think there's been a misconception of the entire team or multiple players," he said. "It's funny: I had my end of the year meeting last year and it was all positive, positive, positive. But apparently something happened over the summer that I wasn't aware of. It was all new to me and news to me. It was interesting."

That said, Kane hasn't spoken with any Sharks teammates over the past month.

"No, I've been doing my own thing. Getting myself prepared, handling my business. As I'm sure they have," he said.

Kane has 506 points in 769 NHL games, including 49 points in 56 games last season.