Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks finds himself as the target of a bombshell allegation at the center of the hockey universe.
The Sharks had a rough season after not making the playoffs, unfortunately the post season has not been kind to the organization either. Posts from an Instagram account (@A.Kane_) purporting to belong to Anna Kane, the wife of Evander Kane, accuse Evander of betting on and throwing games he played in to fund his gambling addiction. Again, for purposes of this article we will assume that the posts are actually coming from the real Anna Kane, which seems to be the case following Evander's statement, but more on that below. Some background is required here given Kane's lengthy litigation history and troublesome financial dealings.
Evander Kane is the left winger of the Sharks and has been with the team since 2017. He is currently three seasons into a seven-year $49 million contract. Before delving into the current accusations, it is important to mention Kane’s past issues. In 2019, a Las Vegas Strip casino sued Kane alleging he failed to pay back a $500,000 gambling debt he racked up during a playoff series against the Golden Knights. Three days before the 2020-21 season Kane filed for bankruptcy, he is said to have had $26.8 in debt at the time he filed. More recently he was sued by Professional Bank for $15 million after the bank alleged he defrauded the company while securing a $1.5 million loan.
In separate Instagram posts and stories, the @A.Kane_ Instagram account laid out a series of accusations against Evander Kane, some involving his alleged gambling, some about abandoning his children, and others about an alleged extra-marital affair. Essentially all of these posts -- including those that have since been deleted -- are detailed in the embedded Twitter thread below from the Co-Host of the Conduct Detrimental Podcast, Sports Attorney Dan Lust (@SportsLawLust):
For sports purposes, the biggest accusation is certainly the claim that Kane gambled on his own games and even threw games to win money with bookies. In the first post it says, “How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he's obviously throwing games to win money? Hmm maybe someone needs to address this." In another post, the NHL account is tagged and asks “Can someone ask (NHL commissioner) Gary Bettman how they can let a player gamble on his own games? Bet and win with bookies on his own games?” In yet another, Kane is accused of abandoning his wife, their daughter, and their unborn son to party in Europe. In the same post it is said that their house was being taken by the bank, she had no money to purchase formula and she had to sell her wedding ring to have money. More posts go on to detail an alleged extra-marital affair. Whether or not these personal allegations have anything to do with the gambling is unclear.
After the posts were made the National Hockey League and the Sharks organization quickly both made statements about the accusations. The National Hockey League released the following statement: "The League was made aware this evening of a post on social media alleging that San Jose Sharks Player Evander Kane bet on NHL games. The integrity of our game is paramount and the League takes these allegations very seriously. We intend to conduct a full investigation and will have no further comment at this time." A short time after the Sharks released their own statement: "The Sharks have been in contact today with the (NHL) about the serious allegations made against Evander Kane. We support a full and transparent investigation into the situation to maintain the integrity of the game and consistency with our team values."
Evander Kane quickly addressed the allegations saying they were false and that he had never gambled on a hockey game, a Sharks game and has never thrown a game.
Evander also addressed Anna as his estranged, soon to be ex – wife and claimed that she has kept him from seeing daughter. Overall, Evander said that he will cooperate with the NHL’s investigation and wants his name cleared. If these allegations are truly false, you would have to imagine his lawyers are contemplating bringing a defamation action. Defamation when someone publishes false statement that tend to harm another's reputation. Here, since Kane is a public figure— he'd need to establish that Anna Kane is making these accusations with “actual malice”. In other words, that she knows they are explicitly false but is making them anyway. An extremely high burden but it's been satisfied before.
Keep in mind that - as we have laid out on Conduct Detrimental - the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement does not explicitly advise what the investigation would entail or the maximum penalties that Kane could face. This is not a criminal case but it is similarly imperative to view Kane as innocent until proven guilty. Let’s see what concrete evidence -- if any -- comes out before we rush to judgment. One thing is clear, however, this type of allegation has simply not occurred in modern sports. Evander Kane's reputation is very much on the line and every singly move he makes moving forward will be dissected with a critical lens. One misstep could cost him his career.
Jessica Shaw is the Secretary of the New York Law School Sports Law Society.
She can be reached on Twitter @JessicaShaw22.