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Sharks’ Evander Kane suspended 21 games by NHL for reported use of fake vaccine card

Evander Kane is set to forfeit almost $1.7 million against his $7 million salary this season. (Mark J. Terrill/AP)
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Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks was suspended 21 games for a violation of the NHL’s coronavirus protocols, the league announced Monday.

According to multiple reports, the 30-year-old forward was investigated for an allegation that he submitted a fake vaccine card to the Sharks and the NHL. The league did not specify the nature of Kane’s violation in its announcement, which included a statement of apology from him.

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL covid protocols,” Kane said. “I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”

The NHL does not have a vaccine mandate for its players, as opposed to its requirements for coaches, trainers and other front-line team staffers. Unvaccinated players — whose number has dwindled to four, Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week — face extra restrictions, though, and national regulations effectively make it impossible for such players to quickly travel in and out of Canada for games there.

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Kane also was under investigation recently for allegations made by his estranged wife that he bet on Sharks games and tried to throw some with intentionally poor play. The NHL announced last month that it was clearing him of those allegations but that in the course of its probe it was made aware of and was looking into allegations that Kane mistreated his wife and behaved in a concerning manner with San Jose teammates. The league noted in its announcement Monday that “those two allegations could not be substantiated.”

“While we are encouraged by Evander’s commitment to moving forward,” the Sharks said, “we are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the NHLPA. We will not be commenting further on Evander’s status prior to the conclusion of the NHL’s mandated suspension.”

Kane, who did not participate in training camp and did not play in the Sharks’ season opener Saturday, will be ineligible to rejoin the team until a Nov. 30 game against the New Jersey Devils. Slated to make $7 million this season as part of a seven-year, $49 million contract he signed with San Jose in 2018, he is set to forfeit almost $1.7 million, which will go to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Kane led the Sharks last season in goals (22), assists (27) and points (49). Entering his 13th NHL season, he has been a consistent, if not elite, scorer since being made the fourth pick in the 2009 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers. That franchise moved to Winnipeg and renamed itself the Jets in 2011. Kane was traded to the Buffalo Sabres in 2015 and then to the Sharks in 2018.

This is the sixth and by far the longest suspension of Kane’s career. His previous suspensions were two games for boarding in 2014; one game for violating team rules while with the Sabres in 2018; one game for crosschecking in 2018; three games for physical abuse of officials in 2019; and three games for elbowing in 2020.

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