NASHVILLE — Following the exhibition game against the host Vegas Golden Knights, Evander Kane condemned the way lineman Kiel Murchison handled an altercation late in the third period between himself and defenseman Deryk Engelland, saying in part, “Talk about abuse of an official? How about abuse of a player? It’s an absolute joke.”
Asked Monday if he thought the punishment was fair, Kane said, “I’m sure you guys have heard my comments about it after the game. I stand by what I said.”
During the altercation with Engelland, Kane inadvertently slashed Murchison when he retaliated to a cross check by Engelland. Murchison then left Engelland’s side to grab the front of Kane’s jersey.
Kane landed backward on the ice with Murchison on top of him. When Kane got up and with Murchison still holding on, Kane gave the linesman a shove with his left arm.
Kane was ejected that night and suspended for three games by the NHL on Oct. 1 for physical abuse of officials. Kane will return to the lineup Tuesday when the Sharks (0-3-0) play the Nashville Predators (1-1-0).
Considering it was a three-game suspension and how long the process might take, Kane said he chose not file an appeal.
Per the NHL’s collective bargaining agreement with the Players Association, any appeal would have to be heard and ruled on by commissioner Gary Bettman. Only after Bettman’s ruling could a player ask for the case to be heard by an independent arbitrator, and that typically takes more time. So with the Sharks playing three games in four nights to start the year, Kane felt it didn’t make sense to go through with a formal review.
Kane said he has not heard from Murchison about what happened, though he did say he spoke with Stephen Walkom. the NHL’s director of officiating, about how the situation was handled.
“There’s been some dialogue, some questions and answers, but like I said, that’s what’s in the CBA, that’s what is in the rulebook,” Kane said. “No matter what I guess transpires, the player’s accountable for it. Doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it is what it is.”
Kane’s absence underscored just how precariously thin and less potent the Sharks’ forward group can be even with just one major piece missing.
Including their 3-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, the Sharks have scored just three goals in their first three games -- their lowest-ever total to start a regular season.
The three goals, by Marcus Sorensen, Barclay Goodrow and Logan Couture, have come at even strength as the Sharks’ power play, which Kane is an important part of, is off to an 0-for-14 start.
Kane, who matched a career-high with 30 goals last season, will play with Tomas Hertl and Goodrow on the Sharks’ second line, hoping to provide some badly needed offensive punch to a winless team that’s struggled in an unprecedented way to score goals so far this season.
What coach Pete DeBoer is just as eager to see, though, is how Kane also impacts games without the puck, especially since the Sharks have been outscored 12-3 through three games.
“He’s a very good NHL player, helps offensively for us, but he’s also a reliable guy,” DeBoer said. “He knows how to play both ends of the rink. Right now, through three games, we’re doing a lot of teaching. The way we want to play as a five-man unit is if one guy is out of place, then things break down.”
“We’ve got some young players that are learning the systems, and that takes some time. We’re dealing with a little bit of that. But dealing with a veteran guy that knows what he’s doing out there and where he’s supposed to be is important.”
The Sharks would no doubt like Kane to handle similar situations a bit differently in the future -- particularly against Vegas at T-Mobile Arena -- so he doesn’t face more future supplemental discipline from the NHL.
“The way he plays, the emotion he plays with, sometimes you have to deal with the good (and) the bad,” DeBoer said Saturday. “He brings a lot of energy and a lot of physicality, and he stands up for a lot of guys on our team, and sometimes those guys cross the line.
“I know he’s going to be a little smarter about it in the future, but I also know that that happens when you ask guys to play the way he played the other night.”
Kane has 32 penalty minutes in seven career regular season games with Vegas, and 60 penalty minutes in 12 playoff games. He was also given a one-game suspension for cross-checking Pierre-Edouard Bellemare during Game 1 of the Sharks and Golden Knights’ second round playoff meeting in 2018.
“It just seems for some reason, that building specifically, maybe we need to sage it. Maybe we’ve got to come in there and sage the dressing room, sage the building.” Kane said. “There’s something going on in there. But we’ll get it figured out and straightened away. Hopefully put the puck in the net and get a W next time.”