After a dismal 2008-09 season, Thrashers fans were looking forward to the draft. It's always fun to see who is going to be the next beacon of hope! Picking 4th overall, the Atlanta Thrashers chose Evander Kane. Fans were excited to see what the kid had at prospect camp.
Kaner didn't exactly dazzle in prospect camp, but fans figured that the coaches had told him "don't kill yourself here, save it for training camp." Kane did impress at training camp and did indeed make the team. Evander suffered an injury to his left foot and missed 16 games, but he had become pretty popular in Blueland.
Then there was this:
With this one punch, Evander was a super star! (in Blueland AND in Boston)
I was lucky enough to be in the building that night, but was at an awkward angle. I do love this picture of Evander skating a way from Cooke laid out on the ice. Lesson learned: don't fuck with a Western Canadian kid in Atlanta named Evander.
Let's take a look at Kaner!
Evander was born on August 2, 1991 (happy belated birthday) in Vancouver, BC, to Sheri and Perry Kane. And yes, he was indeed named after boxing super star and Atlanta resident, Evander Holyfield. Holyfield was a favorite boxer of Kaner's dad and grandfather.
Evander comes from an athletic family. Father Perry played junior hockey as well as trained as an amateur boxer. Mom Sheri was a professional volleyball player.
Evander's sisters are MVPs on their basketball, volleyball and soccer teams. Uncle Kirk Johnson represented Canada in boxing at the 1992 summer Olymics while another uncle, Dwayne Provo, played in the CFL (Canadian Football League) for seven years.
Before focusing on hockey, Evander played several sports himself including baseball, basketball and soccer.
In addition to be talented, Evander's family is something else...large! Though Evander is one of only 3 children, Dad Perry is one of five and his grandfather is one of EIGHTEEN children! No wonder he had so many people at the draft with him!
Evander credits his parents as having the most influence on his career saying:
“It's my parents mostly. They've been with me the whole way from when I was young all the way to where I am now. I owe them a lot of credit, just them supporting me, taking me to practices, paying for all the tournaments, all the plane travel and whatnot. I owe a lot to them. My dad taught me the fundamentals of what it takes -- he really had a big part to do with why I'm a good hockey player. ”Kaner started skating when he was 4, like all good Canadian kids, but first played organized hockey with the Vancouver Thunderbirds at age eight.
Evander grew up in East Vancouver and attended high school at John Oliver Secondary. At 14, Kane recorded 140 points in 66 games with the bantam North Shore Winter Club.
The next season, Kane scored 54 points to finish fourth in league scoring with the Greater Vancouver Canadians of the BC Hockey Major Midget League. (BCMML)
In 2006, Kane was drafted 19th overall in the WHL Bantam Draft by the Vancouver Giants and immediately played eight games for the Giants in the 2006-07 season.
He also suited up for five WHL post-season games, being originally called up for the playoffs after another player got suspended. For the 2007 Memorial Cup, Vancouver was the host city and faced the Medicine Hat Tigers in the championship game. Only 15 at the time, Evander used the Memorial Cup win as a learning experience:
It really helped me a lot going into my 16-year-old year. Being able to play in such a big tournament like that as a 15-year-old was obviously a good accomplishment. Playing with players like Milan Lucic and Brett Festerling, guys like that you get to learn a lot. It all happened pretty quick, but learning from Don (Hay), getting to know him better, him having more confidence in me was a real key to my success.Also on the 2007 Memorial Cup winning Vancouver Giants...Thrashers prospect Spencer Machacek.
The 2007-08 season was Evander's first full rookie campaign with the Giants. Kane experienced a minor setback as he was forced to miss the start of training camp with a case of mono. He recovered and joined the Giants full-time to tally 24 goals ( 3rd in team scoring) and 41 points in his first WHL season. Finishing tenth in rookie scoring, he was nominated for the Jim Piggot Memorial Trophy, which is the league rookie of the year.
Kane started off the 2008-09 season with a bang, scoring at least a point per game in his first 22 games. Kane was selected to represent the WHL at the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge,(now known as the Subway Super Series) but due to a bruised heal, was unable to play for Team WHL. After recovering, Kane did earn a spot as an injury replacement at the 2009 World Junior Championship where he helped Canada win a Gold Medal. Another highlight of the season, Kane broke the Giants' single-season goals record with his 44th goal. At the end of the season, Evander had scored 96 points (48 goals and 48 assists).
The 2009-10 season was Kaner's rookie season with the Thrashers and I enjoyed watching him immensely. He was part of my favorite line....Kaner, Armstrong and Slater. I can't wait to watch him progress. There is a lot of excitement about Kaner in Blueland!
One thing I'm really hoping is that they will put Kane in the starting line up the first game that the Thrashers travel to Boston. I want to hear them cheer when they announce his name!
Something I noticed when watching videos for this piece....most of the Thrashers fans have only seen the video from the Sports South feed with our commentators. I tried to watch the Pittsburgh feed, but I couldn't stomach their announce team for that long. I actually made it through their version of it and noticed something at the end that is not on the end of our feed. On the end our version, you see Kane sitting in the box. At the end of their version, you see Kane up and banging his stick to salute Cooke being able to leave the ice. What a classy kid! If you can't stomach the P'burgh people, fast forward to second 2:21