WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- Evander Kane played the "just another game" card today with about 20 media members in his former city, using those exact words to portray his feeling heading into his first game back at MTS Centre.
But that's not the way folks here are playing up Sunday's matinee between the Buffalo Sabres and Winnipeg Jets.
Kane was front-page news in Saturday's Winnipeg Sun with a two-page spread about him dominating the tabloid's sports section. There are rumors fans may wear track suits, in a sort of mock homage to the widely celebrated locker room dispute about Kane's attire that saw him ultimately get traded to Buffalo last February.
"It's an afternoon game so it's a little bit different that way," Kane said. "I'm going into it preparing as if we're playing any other team in the league. We're on a six-game slide here so I'm looking for two points.
"It's a place I used to play in and a team I used to play for. I play for the Buffalo Sabres now and I look at it as business as usual."
What does Kane anticipate from the normally raucous fans here?
"I don't know. I guess we'll all find out together."
The Sabres had a spirited 45-minute practice with heavy power-play work. Players were clearly in a grumpy mood with plenty of chirping on the ice. They then had a post-practice meeting and Kane revealed there's been a lot of group-think in the wake of Friday's 3-1 loss in Chicago.
"I don't think anybody is accepting of where we are as a group and where we are in the standings," Kane said. "Sometimes it's good to get a little pissed off with how things are going. I think we can use that energy to our advantage to hopefully get us over the hump here."
Zemgus Girgensons sat out practice with what coach Dan Bylsma termed a maintenance day. Bylsma said he should be fine to play in the game.