OTTAWA – Evander Kane could not have been more emphatic here Tuesday: He will never cause another distraction for the Buffalo Sabres again.
Now it’s up to him to make sure he lives up to that bold promise.
That was the message the benched Kane sent at Canadian Tire Centre after taking part in the Sabres’ optional pregame skate. Kane did not play in the game against the Ottawa Senators after oversleeping Monday following a late night of partying in Toronto that took place after he attended the NBA All-Star Game.
“First and foremost, I want to apologize to my teammates for letting them down,” Kane said. “Me missing practice yesterday was irresponsible and I take full accountability for my actions with what happened.”
Kane did some extra skating drills after the brief practice with assistant coach Terry Murray, but it wasn’t the kind of onerous “bag skate” you might have expected for a scratched player. The Sabres likely cut the drills off to return to their nearby hotel because of the day-long snowstorm that raged outside the arena and made travel extremely difficult.
Kane, whose 16 goals entered Tuesday one off the team lead, flew to Toronto on a private jet Sunday night but did not want to go into details on his travel.
It’s believed that he was still in Toronto on Monday morning and overslept, thus making an 11 a.m. practice in First Niagara Center impossible to get to on time. Kane met the team at Prior Aviation for the flight here and apologized to his teammates during a meeting at its hotel Monday evening.
- Game feature by Mike Harrington: Moulson's goal drought ends but Sabres come up just short
- Quick hits: Senators 2, Sabres 1 (SO)
- Kane apologizes for oversleeping
- Sabres at trade deadline: Who might be dealt? Harrington analysis & News photos
“I wanted to apologize to my teammates, the Pegula family as well, our coaching staff and general manager,” Kane said. “It’s something that should have never happened. It’s something that I can promise you won’t happen again and it’s something that I’m definitely going to learn from.”
Kane, of course, has run afoul of teammates before. He was essentially run out of Winnipeg last year because of locker room conflicts and missed practice with the Sabres Dec. 27 after a late-night incident involving a woman in a downtown hotel that remains under investigation.
“He apologized and that’s where we’ll leave it,” said captain Brian Gionta. “As teammates, we’re going to take him for his word and go from there. It was disappointing yesterday. The guys are there, guys are at practice ready to work and you’re missing one of your guys. It’s disappointing for sure.”
“It’s a good thing to do and it’s never a fun thing for a player to do that,” added defenseman Zach Bogosian, who came to Buffalo with Kane in the blockbuster trade with Winnipeg just over a year ago. “If you’re have things like that happen, you have to be a man about it and he was. I give him credit. Everyone has rules. We have rules. A rule was broken and he’s going to have to suffer a consequence.”
Kane did not address a question about whether he needs to re-evaluate his use of social media. He posted pictures on Snapchat of him partying and using alcohol late into the night Sunday.
“There were some things this weekend that shouldn’t have happened,” Kane said. “And I just said, they won’t be happening again and I can assure you guys of that.”
Gionta said he had no thoughts on Kane’s social media usage.
“Completely different generation I guess from what I grew up in,” said Buffalo’s 37-year-old captain. “It’s an extension of your life. People can use it the way they need to use it or want to use it. It’s not for myself to judge.”
Coach Dan Bylsma has not committed to Kane returning to the lineup Friday in Columbus. But the coach said Kane’s pattern of indiscretions doesn’t make him a marked man in the eyes of the coaching staff.
“He’s on the same leash everybody else is,” Bylsma said.
Bogosian and Gionta both said they’re not willing to concede there’s any pattern to Kane’s behavior.
“People make mistakes and you live with them,” Bogosian said. “From here on out, it’s something you have to move forward from. He’ll learn from it.”
“He’s a big part of this team. He does a lot, brings a lot to the table on the ice,” Gionta said.
“For sure, it’s disappointing that there’s consequences for what happens. To be without him could hurt the team. It’s something that happened but we’re going to support him and try to rectify the problem.”
Kane responded strongly to a question from an Ottawa reporter about whether he takes hockey seriously enough.
“If you watch me play on the ice, I do take hockey seriously,” Kane said. “I think I can take it more seriously and I think going forward you’re going to see that.”