Between the ongoing investigation into Evander Kane and the trade rumors swirling around Tomas Hertl, it seemed that potentially neither would be back with the San Jose Sharks this season. Add in that Hertl is believed to be one of the Sharks’ core members who was upset with Kane’s presence in the locker room last year and did not want him to return, it certainly did not seem that both would be back in 2021-22. Yet, it is growing increasingly more likely that this in fact will be the case.
Kane tells ESPN’s Linda Cohn that he expects the NHL’s current investigation into allegations that he bet on NHL games, and Sharks games in particular, to go nowhere. Kane states that these allegations were entirely fabricated by his estranged wife during the course of an ugly and public divorce:
Obviously (the accusations are) incredibly false. It’s unfortunate that transpired, and it’s unfortunate that those false allegations were made. I understood the magnitude of them immediately. I know (they’re) not true. I know none of what she was saying was true. I was very confident, comfortable with knowing that I was going to be exonerated and am going to be exonerated of those allegations.
While Kane’s investigation is far from his only off-ice concern – bankruptcy case, gambling addiction, and other unsavory allegations – it is seemingly the only grounds that the NHL would have to suspend him or San Jose would have to terminate his contract. And while the Sharks could explore trading Kane, it would be difficult to move his baggage an an extremely no-trade clause does not help. If Kane is cleared, it seems likely that he will be back with the Sharks this season.
Unless that fact itself is the final straw for Hertl, he too seems to be heading back to San Jose to begin the season. Speaking to NHL.com’s Tracey Myers, Hertl stated that he not only expects to attend training camp and open the year with the Sharks, but he is open to extension talks as well. Of course, it seems more likely than not that Hertl heads elsewhere as a free agent next summer, if not via trade sooner, but he will not be requesting a trade out of San Jose; quite the contrary, in fact. Hertl is looking to take on more of a leadership role with the Sharks this season to fill the gap of departed veterans like Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski. Hertl clearly cares about locker room chemistry and still seems to be thinking only of the present in San Jose and not his future. Will he remain as focused if the locker room he is trying to lead includes Kane though? That could be the big question for the Sharks early this season: can the two co-exist and, if not, which one is moved first?