For years, Sharks forward Evander Kane has believed there is a double-standard when it comes to how players in the NHL are allowed to express themselves compared to the NBA and NFL.
That belief was confirmed Thursday when Kane saw new Miami Heat star Jimmy Butler post a photo of former Philadelphia 76ers teammate T.J. McConnell holding a stack of money up to his ear like a phone.
All good when a different color and a different league. pic.twitter.com/CGEZ4npPpn— Evander Kane (@evanderkane_9) July 26, 2019
Why would that image set Kane off?
Back in 2012, when he was a 21-year-old on the then-Atlanta Thrashers, Kane posted a similar photo and was criticized for it.
Shortly after he was traded to the Sharks, and well before Butler ever posted the photo of new Indiana Pacer McConnell, Kane spoke about his photo while appearing on Hockey Night in Canada's "After Hours" show.
“Obviously that picture had a lot of mixed reviews,” Kane said via Sportsnet. “I understand the timing of it, but I was a young kid with some free time, having some fun and, like [HNIC host Scott Oake mentions], in the NBA, NFL that wouldn’t get a second look."
Kane is right. Have you heard anything about the photo of McConnell since it was posted Thursday?
Now a 10-year veteran of the NHL, Kane in March of 2018, cited the NHL's old-school mentality for the backlash to his photo.
“It’s happened before. You have Wes Welker at the Kentucky Derby throwing money after he won the race," Kane said. "I think in the NHL it’s a little bit of an older mindset and I think you have to try to stay within that, but I think it’s important to show that personality and show people – players, specifically – who are willing to show that personality because that’s what’s going to help grow the game and sell the game.”
Kane's point is valid. Look at the NBA. The offseason has been just as entertaining as the regular season. NBA players express themselves through Twitter and Instagram, and fans eat it up. But the NHL is more reserved and frowns upon self-expression.
In light of the Butler-McConnell post, maybe Kane will lead the charge to break barriers when it comes to NHL players having fun and expressing themselves.