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Sharks' Evander Kane addresses racism in hockey, calls for change

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Sharks' Evander Kane addresses racism in hockey, calls for change

Evander Kane has had enough and he's decided it's time for hockey to address a big problem.

That problem? Racism within the sport.

The issue arose last Wednesday when Kane called out an Instagram user for a comment. Two days later, the Sharks winger took it a step further in a radio interview with TSN 1040 in Vancouver.

“The time is now,” Kane said according to The Mercury News. “For me, the timing for myself and where I’m at in my career, playing 10 years in this league and kind of seeing what it’s all about. Going through a bunch of different types of challenges and some adversity — and a lot of positive things as well throughout the course of my career — it’s time for that change and it’s time that hockey grows and expands, because that’s really the only way our sport’s going to grow.”

Unlike the other three major America sports, the NHL has very few African-American players. But Kane doesn't believe the small number of athletes of color should stop the league from striving for change.

“I’ve been in the league 10 years," Kane said via The Mercury News. "There’s more than just me as a black player in the NHL. I think there’s about 15 consistently active guys that are on NHL rosters on a nightly basis in the league. Just because there’s so few of us, does that mean we should ignore our history, and not embrace our history in the sport that we play? I don’t think so. I just found it ridiculous, the fact that this is the first year during my career in 10 years that it was even mentioned.”

You can bet now that Kane has brought the issue to the forefront, it will be a topic that is discussed openly as the 2019-20 NHL season approaches.

[RELATED: Vegas' Reaves takes shot at Kane]

And with labor talks coming up, it's possible that Kane's comments could spur rules that help lead to the change he's hoping to see.

Stay tuned. This issue isn't going away, and it shouldn't.

2020 NHL Draft lottery: Sharks benefit from Rangers getting No. 1 pick

2020 NHL Draft lottery: Sharks benefit from Rangers getting No. 1 pick

The Sharks' NHL draft lottery woes didn't go from bad to worse Monday.

The Ottawa Senators won't get the chance to select top prospect Alexis Lafreniere with the Sharks' pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, and none of San Jose's division or conference rivals will be able to select him, either. The New York Rangers won Phase 2 of the draft lottery, grabbing the No. 1 selection in this year's draft after bowing out to the Carolina Hurricanes in the qualifying round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Lafreniere, widely expected to be the No. 1 pick in this year's draft, has franchise-defining talent. He has scored a whopping 297 points in the last three years in the QMJHL, including 112 in 52 games this season. The Sharks can rest easy knowing no team in the Pacific Division or Western Conference will have Lafreniere on a rookie deal for the next three years, though it was a possibility.

The Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets each had a 12.5 percent chance of landing the top pick (and thus Lafreniere) entering Monday night. Each team had at least 15 more points than the cellar-dwelling Sharks when the NHL season was suspended in March, and San Jose's path back to contention is fraught enough without adding a Lafreniere-starring team in the division or conference.

[RELATED: Why bringing Marleau back makes plenty of sense for Sharks]

The Sharks surely breathed a sigh of relief once they learned the Senators would select No. 3 overall with the pick San Jose used to acquire defenseman Erik Karlsson nearly two years ago, and they can do so again knowing Lafreniere won't be out west. The 2019-20 season will still sting, of course, if Ottawa's selection is used to draft an eventual franchise cornerstone, but the Sharks haven't had many victories to fall back upon in the last calendar year and this would certainly qualify.

It won't mean much if the Sharks aren't soon able to chart a path back to contention, though.

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

Why Sharks should sign Patrick Marleau for third go-around in San Jose

It has been widely presumed that if Patrick Marleau returns for a 23rd NHL season, he will do so with the Sharks, back where it all began.

He still is without a Stanley Cup on his career résumé after he and the Pittsburgh Penguins were eliminated by the Montreal Canadiens in the qualifying round of the NHL's expanded playoff format. The Penguins acquired him prior to the trade deadline in exchange for a 2021 third-round draft pick after he returned for his second go-around with San Jose early in the season.

Based on what his wife, Christina, tweeted Friday, it appears Marleau already has made up his mind about playing next season.

That really shouldn't come as a surprise. Though he isn't the top-end player he once was, Marleau showed this past season that he still has some left in the tank. And, on top of that, he only needs to play in 45 more games to pass NHL legend Gordie Howe for the most games played in league history.

Frankly, it would only be fitting if he set the record in a Sharks sweater. And now it would appear the ball is in San Jose's court as to whether or not Marleau will return to the franchise that drafted him with the No. 2 overall pick in the 1997 Entry Draft.

Aside from the appetizing narrative, there's reason why Marleau might get a third go-around in teal. All indications are that the Sharks intend to return to playoff contention next season, but due to their salary structure, don't expect any large salaries to be brought in -- San Jose already has plenty of those. Consequently, the Sharks are going to need to fill the lineup with some minimum-salaried players.

[RELATED: Sharks' Hertl 'finally back' on ice after tearing ACL, MCL]

At this point, you can bet that money isn't a top consideration for Marleau. If a true Cup contender doesn't present him with an offer, it would be difficult to envision a more appealing destination for him than San Jose. Marleau could be signed for the veteran's minimum, and given he scored 10 goals in 58 games with the Sharks this year, that might be a pretty good value.

It's certainly possible the Sharks find a superior player to take Marleau's hypothetical spot, or would rather give it to a younger player that is part of the future.

If that's not the case, though, signing Mr. Shark makes an awful lot of sense.