Kane able to think big

Jets forward Evander Kane will be wearing No. 9 for the club next season and he hopes to remind the...

Jets forward Evander Kane will be wearing No. 9 for the club next season and he hopes to remind the fans of another famous No. 9 in a Winnipeg jersey. (DAVE ABEL/QMI Agency file photo)

PAUL FRIESEN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:53 PM ET

WINNIPEG - He値l definitely wear No. 9, and if all goes according to plan, he値l even remind us of the Golden Jet.

Evander Kane, fresh off his 20th birthday, says it痴 time for him to take the next step in his career, and that means scoring 20-plus goals and becoming an offensive force for the Winnipeg Jets.

的 was drafted to score goals I know I知 a goal scorer, Kane told the Sun from Vancouver, Wednesday. 典here痴 no reason this year I知 not going to produce and build on what I did last year. You always want to get better every year, and that痴 been my focus since I was eight years old and started playing hockey.

Kane last season scored 19 times, once for every year he痴 been breathing, and five more than he scored as a rookie.

He痴 keeping his personal goals to himself, but acknowledges this most special of seasons for Winnipeg hockey fans is going to be special for him, too.

典his is a big year for me, the Vancouver product said. 的知 looking forward to playing before a hockey-crazy city in front of passionate fans, playing in a big-time hockey market. It痴 the last year of my contract, and we have such a good group of core guys and a solid team. If we can put it together, we can do some damage and make the playoffs, and anything can happen.

的知 looking forward to really having a big year and showing everybody what I can do.

At 6-foot-2, 195 pounds and, presumably, still filling out Kane has mouthwatering potential.

Sounds like his head is screwed on straight, too, based on how he celebrated his 20th birthday a couple weeks ago.

的 trained.

What a party animal.

Kane must figure the partying can come when the Jets win the NHL East.

Seriously, he thinks the former Atlanta Thrashers can be a contender in Year 1 at Portage and Hargrave.

典his team could be a top team in the conference, he said. 展e have the players that are able to do it. And now that we have a new organization and a new philosophy, it痴 going to be a good recipe for success.

Kane figures all the concerns about goal-scoring up front are unfounded.

And if Winnipeggers are going to be surprised at one thing, it値l be how much this team reminds us of the Jets glory days, when they were led by that other No. 9.

展e致e got a lot of speed, and we池e pretty exciting to watch, Kane said. 典hat痴 going to be a real surprise for a lot of people, not just Winnipeg fans, who weren稚 seeing us on TV every night like some other teams. We get kind of the short end of the stick on our skill level, just because there痴 not a lot of household names. We池e an entertaining team.

As for his jersey number, Kane never did talk to Bobby Hull about it.

But if anybody thinks his taking Hull痴 old number is sacrilegious, you should know he offered to change but was stopped in his tracks by GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.

的 presented Chevy and the team with some numbers that I wanted, he said. 典hey kind of shot them down, and really encouraged me to wear No. 9.

So he痴 going with it, and I don稚 have a problem with it.

The Jets will find a way to honour their past. I hear the WHA Hall of Fame is still looking for a permanent display, and wouldn稚 be surprised if that winds up here.

From the logo, which I知 not crazy about, to the players, the vast majority of which are on the sunny side of 30, this team is about the future, not the past.

That said, nobody痴 going to complain if the sight of No. 9 lighting the lamp brings back some fond memories.


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