Updated: Aug 4, 2022
Since August 2021, the NHL and greater hockey community have been following allegations surrounding Evander Kane. Kane’s ex-wife, Anna, accused him of gambling on and throwing his own games to win money with bookies. After an investigation, the NHL stated that they uncovered no evidence to confirm Anna’s accusations that Kane bet or participated in gambling on NHL games. Additionally, there was no evidence to corroborate the allegations that Kane threw games or did not put forth his best efforts with the Sharks. After Kane was cleared of the gambling allegations the league began investigating two new allegations against him. The first concerned claims that Kane violated the NHL COVID protocols. The second claim was that Anna alleged sexual assault and multiple instances of domestic violence in a divorce court filing. Following both allegations Kane and the San Jose Sharks agreed that he would not be participating in Sharks 2021 Training Camp.
The NHL has wrapped up their investigation concerning the COVID protocol violation and the abuse allegations from Anna. The NHL has announced that Kane has been suspended 21 games for violating the NHL COVID Protocols. During training camp, Kane was being investigated for using a fake vaccination card, however the NHL did not specify if he submitted a fake card. Kane will be eligible to play for the Sharks on November 30th against the New Jersey Devils. In a statement Kane said “I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols. 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 NHL COVID Protocols were adopted for the 2021-22 by the league and the NHLPA. The protocols do not specify fines and suspensions for players and teams who violate the protocols. However, the protocol says, “Established violations of, and/or lack of compliance with, the COVID-19 Protocol will result in significant Club and individual sanctions, including potential forfeiture of games, fines and reimbursements of expenses, loss of draft choices, and/or ineligibility for participation in training activities.” Based on this, it is unclear how the league came up with a suspension of 21 games. Kane is the only player so far that has been reprimanded by the NHL for violating the COVID Protocols.
Additionally, if Kane did submit a fake vaccination card the penalty may not seem too harsh because the NHL is recommending that players get vaccinated but is not mandating them. Section 1 of the protocol states “All individuals are strongly encouraged to become fully vaccinated (as defined below), ideally with an mRNA (Pfizer or Moderna) vaccine, where such option is available. Quite simply, vaccination is the most effective measure to protect against infection with COVID-19.” However, submitting a fake vaccination card is illegal in Canada and the United States.
Conversely, the NHL stated that the domestic abuse allegations by Anna could not be substantiated. It seems that the NHL has closed all matters relating to the abuse allegations. While the NHL has closed the door on the abuse allegations Anna can still press sexual assault charges against Kane. Prosecutors have the option to pursue charges even without Anna’s cooperation. California doesn’t have a statute of limitations for felony sex offenses which means Kane could be prosecuted any time in the future if there is sufficient evidence.
Jessica Shaw is the Secretary of the New York Law School’s Sports Law Society. She can be found on Twitter @JessicaShaw22.
 Ellis, Steven. “Evander Kane given 21-Game Suspension for Violating NHL's Covid-19 Protocol.” The Hockey News on Sports Illustrated, 18 Oct. 2021, https://www.si.com/hockey/news/evander-kane-given-21-game-suspension-for-violating-nhls-covid-19-protocol.  Id.  https://media.nhl.com/site/asset/public/ext/2021-22/2021-22COVIDProtocol.pdf  Id.