SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - For starters, he has the name of a champion.
“It came after Evander Holyfield.”
And Evander Kane does take after his namesake.
“I'm a goal scorer first and foremost, I bring a physical element to the game,” says Kane.
Since being traded to San Jose on February 26th, Kane leads the team in goals and points, and – not coincidentally - the Sharks have raised their collective game.
“You look at our record, we're a different team with him in the lineup,” says head coach Peter DeBoer.
“I think all the numbers and wins kind of speak for themselves,” adds captain Joe Pavelski.
“It's been pretty seamless, or seamless as it can go getting traded halfway through the season,” says Kane. “I just wanted to come in here, bring an element to the team, just try and add to what we already had here in San Jose. The guys have been great, the city has been great treated me well, very thankful for that.”
There has never a question about Evander’s talent. He has long been regarded as one of the most dangerous forwards in the league. But the road to San Jose hasn't exactly been paved with smooth ice, and he's had to fight more than his share of public relations battles along the way.
“I think a lot of that stuff had to do with my time in Canada,” explains Kane.
More specifically, Winnipeg – where he spent 4 seasons early in his career. It was not a good fit. Evander’s “swagger” didn’t play well in the conservative town.
“Hockey is a bit of an older mindset as a spot, especially in Canada. I think there's a trend of younger players with social media, what sports is becoming. Hockey's a little bit behind that. I think I was maybe too early. Just trying to make it a little more entertaining for the fans off the ice. It's something that you obviously don't want out there but you just try to do the best you can to control the narrative and show people who you really are.”
“An NHL career - especially of a great player - is always a journey,” says DeBoer. “They come in this league awful young and there's an awful lot thrown at them. Sometimes you get a target and people are looking for stuff. I just see a great teammate, great player, I don't put any stock in any of that other stuff.”
“I don't judge someone until I meet them,” adds Sharks’ forward Logan Couture. “Things can get said pretty easily, on Twitter and everything these days. Meeting him, he's been a good guy and a guy you enjoy spending time with. He's been a good teammate.”
“I think you learn from all your experiences, whether they're good or bad,” says Kane. “For me, I definitely have matured and learned from those experiences. I think it's only made me stronger as a person and more knowledgeable and I'm thankful for that. You look at a guy like Floyd Mayweather, for everything he does in the boxing rink specifically, is what I look at. People think it's cocky, it's arrogant, it's this it's that. But when you're 50-0, it's kind of hard to argue with when it comes to boxing. Just that kind of stuff.”
Evander’s next fight will be the most significant – and exciting – of his career. Incredibly, nine years into the league, he has never played in a playoff game. Oh, and Kane gives his new team more than a punchers’ chance to go the distance.
“I’m excited. Obviously for me, after getting to know the guys, playing with this group, my belief is growing in this group. I feel we have the guys in here to make that push, to possibly win a Stanley Cup.
For me it's super excitement, it's been growing since I've been here which has been great.”