WINNIPEG - You think Evander Kane has gone a long time between goals?
His Twitter drought might be even more dramatic.
One of the Winnipeg Jets’ most enthusiastic users of social media, Kane has gone dry the last 10 days.
That’s because the Jets recently asked him to tone down the tweets, team spokesman Scott Brown confirmed, Tuesday, part of a strategy to help the 20-year-old combat the social media onslaught that’s enveloped him during his first season in Winnipeg.
For some reason, Kane, out with a concussion, has become an Internet target, the latest example an I Hate Evander Kane Facebook page that sprung up this week.
The page, which had 50 members, Tuesday, comes on the heels of two online rumours the Jets have investigated and determined to be false: that Kane suffered his concussion when punched at a nightclub, and that he doesn’t pay his restaurant tabs.
There was a time, not long ago, Kane would refute the gossip himself, using his Twitter account (@EKane9JETS) to dismiss the rumour mongers as “haters.”
But the Jets, with the help of a consultant, obviously thought that was a little strong.
Kane hasn’t tweeted a message out to his 68,596 followers (as of Tuesday afternoon) since Jan. 22, and for the 20-and-under crowd, that’s an eternity.
He’s also been forced to take down his Facebook page in the wake of personal attacks and phony posts purporting to be his on gossip sites, one of which has his lawyers threatening to take legal action.
In an interview with the Sun a while back, Kane wasn’t oblivious to the drawbacks of being such a keen social media user.
“I can understand why guys don’t want to be part of it,” he said. “You don’t want to say the wrong thing, or you don’t want it to be perceived in the wrong way. A lot of times that can happen.”
Kane also acknowledged the ’net can get nasty.
“All it takes is one person to start something on there. A lot of people that tweet back, they’re just hiding behind their computer. Nobody’s ever going to come up to you and say it to your face. There’s a lot of pretenders and a lot of hiders. But most of my followers, 95% of them, it’s all positive, and I’ve had a good experience with them.”
Then there’s the 5% who are out to hurt him. And make no mistake, the attacks bother Kane.
So what is it about him that attracts the loogins?
Being rich and famous is, no doubt, part of it, especially being in a relatively small market.
But no other Jets have drawn this kind of unwanted attention, and a quick check with Sun Media writers in other Canadian cities verifies the Kane phenomenon as unusual.
Yes, he’s got some attitude, an air that straddles the line between confident and cocky.
There have been times — two, so far — when Jets head coach Claude Noel has reeled in that ego with some extra time on the bench or a public scolding.
Not every 20-year-old reaches the NHL and cashes million-dollar cheques as fast as Kane has, and with that can come a sense of entitlement.
Every cocky comment, every verbal exchange with a fan, gets magnified 20 times in a city that, this season, at least, can’t get enough dirt on the Jets.
But regardless of who Kane has rubbed the wrong way, the mostly anonymous vitriol and outright lies directed his way are disturbing.
And serious enough that the Jets are trying to get ahead of it.
The last thing they want is for Winnipeg to get the reputation as a city that’s not player-friendly.
So don’t be surprised to see Kane doing some positive things in the community once he gets back in the lineup, to counteract the crap that’s out there.
Maybe he’ll head out to the nearest community club for a game of shinny, like Alexander Burmistrov did again during the all-star break.
And maybe, eventually, he’ll start tweeting again.