Evander Kane suspended 21 games for violation of COVID Protocol

The winger will not be available until Nov. 30.

The NHL has suspended Sharks forward Evander Kane for 21 games for violating the COVID-19 Protocols agreed upon by the NHL and NHLPA.

The league conducted a concurrent investigation into domestic violence allegations made by Kane’s estranged wife, Anna. The league determined that the claims “could not be substantiated.”

According to a statement released by the NHL, Kane was suspended “for an established violation of, and lack of compliance with, the NHL/NHLPA COVID-19 Protocol.” The press release did not elaborate on the violation, but many reports indicate it was for submitting a fake vaccination card.

Following the NHL’s statement, Kane released a statement of his own through the NHL Player’s Association.

“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols,” said Kane. “I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”

The Sharks have also responded to the report, saying in part: “While we are encouraged by Evander’s commitment to moving forward, we are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the NHLPA.”

Kane is not expected to appeal the suspension. Under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, his salary will go into the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

The league says Kane is not eligible to play until San Jose’s game on Nov. 30 against the New Jersey Devils. That’s the second game in a five-game road trip for the Sharks.

Kane did not participate in the Sharks’ training camp or preseason because of the NHL investigation. He did not play on opening night, Saturday, for the same reason. Interestingly, the NHL has considered that time served. It will count as the first of the 21 games of his suspension.

What does Evander Kane’s suspension mean for the Sharks’ salary cap?

When a player gets suspended for an infraction during a game, their salary still counts against the cap hit. However, violating COVID-19 protocol is an off-ice incident. That means it is treated differently by the NHL.

In 2019, the Washington Capitals dealt with something similar when forward Evgeny Kuznetsov was suspended for three games for cocaine use. According to NBC Sports, Kuznetsov’s salary cap hit during the suspension was treated in much the same way as the cap hit from a player on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).

CapFriendly has an explainer for the math behind LTIR and the salary cap. Here’s the basics: Kane’s cap hit will not count against the Sharks’ salary while he is on suspension. However, the Sharks are also not allowed to bank the cap savings for later use. That cap savings is only useful if the Sharks are at the cap ceiling or slightly over the ceiling. Other than that, it’s worthless.

But wait ... there’s another wrinkle. Since this involves COVID-19, it is possible that this falls under the MOU that was signed by the NHLPA and the NHL in the summer. Pro Hockey Rumors reports that under that agreement, teams that suspend unvaccinated players could receive corresponding cap relief for the days the players are suspended.

We don’t know if Kane is vaccinated. However, if the rumors that he submitted a fake vaccination card are true, then it would stand to reason that he’s not vaccinated. It may also mean the Sharks will see some cap relief under the new MOU.

When it comes to how it affects Kane financially, he will be forfeiting a daily salary of $35,000 for being unavailable due to off-ice discipline.