Evander Kane found a seamless fit after his trade from the Sabres to San Jose, and the Sharks rewarded him with a seven-year, $49-million contract extension last month – which provides the Sabres with a 2019 first-round draft pick.
Writing for the Players' Tribune in a story released Friday, Kane said the welcome he received in the locker room and from fans about town made it clear to him the Sharks should be his team until he retires.
He said he was stunned to learned how Joe Thornton advocated for his trade and how Norris Trophy winner Brent Burns said the San Jose fans were among the craziest in the league. But a walk with Timo Meier through the city's glitzy Santana Row, a noted haven for shops and restaurants, sealed the deal.
"I must have been stopped 40 times by Sharks fans. No joke," Kane wrote. "Timo said he had never seen anything like that. So many of them told me what the Sharks meant to them — how hard it was to lose in the Cup finals in 2016, and how desperately they wanted me to help them get back there.
"I sort of thought I’d get to San Jose, walk down the streets in shorts every day and nobody would recognize me … but this city isn’t just a Sharks town — it’s a hockey town with a bunch of hockey nuts. Burnzie was right. And the best part about that day with Timo was getting back to my apartment, sitting on the couch and realizing that people wanted me there."
The timing of the article, of course, is very interesting: New York Islanders center John Tavares has a big decision to make in the next few days and most reports say the Sharks are among his final three teams along with the Islanders and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Kane doesn't have a lot to say in the article about his three years with the Sabres, pro or con. But he was always positive about his time in Buffalo when asked during his days here and that tone remained in the article.
"The trade to Buffalo was an opportunity to start fresh," he wrote. "I was only there for three years, but I really did enjoy my time as a Sabre. It was disappointing we couldn’t get the on-ice results to match the support we had from the fans. There are a lot of good people in that organization. From Jason (GM Jason Botterill) down to the training staff, they want to right the ship.
"Leaving a place that wasn’t having success was difficult, because I wanted to be part of the fix. They have a great young leader in Jack Eichel, but the team was in a rebuild mode. I’m nine years into my career and I wanted to give myself the best opportunity to win, and I think San Jose gives me that opportunity."
Kane also talked about things he often was asked about during his days in Buffalo: His use of social media, the need for NHL players to be able to show more personality and the struggles to play through losing times in Atlanta and Winnipeg.