TORONTO — Don Cherry didn’t hold back Saturday night when discussing Evander Kane and the Winnipeg Jets.
Speaking on his weekly Coach’s Corner segment in a red blazer with a black tie covered in hearts, Cherry went off on the 23-year-old forward for showing up to a team meeting in a track suit — an incident that disrupted the Jets’ week and led to Kane being scratched from the lineup before Winnipeg’s 3-2 overtime loss in Vancouver on Tuesday.
“You are a jerk right now,” said Cherry. “What you did coming into a team meeting, everybody has shirts and ties on, and you come in in a track suit. You should be ashamed of yourself.”
Reports initially indicated Kane was benched because he broke the team’s dress code. A source confirmed to The Canadian Press that Kane had a run-in with teammates that included Dustin Byfuglien throwing Kane’s track suit into the shower.
Things took a turn for the worse after that.
Kane followed up Tuesday’s scratch by missing team practice Thursday to visit a doctor, according to coach Paul Maurice. Then on Friday it was announced he would undergo surgery on his left shoulder and will be out for four to six months.
Cherry refused to accept the timing of the injury as anything more than a much-needed separation from the team.
“Don’t think you can fool me with the operation,” said Cherry. “The operation is they didn’t want you around.”
Cherry then ran a clip of Jets forward Blake Wheeler speaking to reporters about Kane’s behaviour.
“There’s a standard that everyone needs to live up to,” said Wheeler in the video. “We’re professionals, we make a lot of money, we’re expected to uphold a certain standard and that’s a code we live by. That’s just the way it is. If you don’t like it then there’s other places to go.”
Winnipeg has one of the final playoff positions in the Western Conference. Cherry said a team can’t afford to have such a distraction while in the playoff hunt, before wrapping up his first-intermission segment.
“You disrupt the team, you’re the fork in the road. Either be a jerk or be a good player. If not, like Wheeler says, ‘get out of the game.’ Smarten up and don’t be a jerk.”