San Jose Sharks star Evander Kane says he believes he’ll be cleared in the NHL’s investigation into accusations from his estranged wife that he wagered on his own games and threw games for gambling purposes.
“Obviously [the accusations are] incredibly false. It’s unfortunate that transpired, and it’s unfortunate that those false allegations were made,” Kane told ESPN’s Linda Cohn, in an interview that aired Thursday on Outside the Lines on SportsCenter. “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.”
Anna Kane alleged on Instagram on July 31 that the 12-year veteran wagered on NHL games “with bookies” and had a gambling addiction. “How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games to win money?” she wrote in one post.
NHL rules posted in every team dressing room state that “gambling on any NHL game is prohibited.”
The league opened an investigation into the accusations on the day they were made. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN on Wednesday that he anticipates a resolution of that investigation soon and expects a full report on the matter prior to the opening of training camps next week.
In his interview with Cohn, Kane denied ever betting on an NHL game, or ever altering his play because of a bet he or anyone else had made on a game.
He confirmed he had a gambling addiction that led to massive personal financial losses. In January, Kane filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. As part of his legal filings, he said he had lost $1.5 million gambling “at casino and via bookie” over a 12-month span leading up to his bankruptcy petition.
In April 2019, he failed to pay a $500,000 casino marker from The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas while he was in town for a playoff series against the Golden Knights. The Cosmopolitan filed a complaint in November 2019, and the case was dropped by the casino in 2020.
“When you have a problem, sometimes you can’t control your decision-making at that time. I think that was an example of my problem getting the better of me. I had a gambling problem. And when you have a gambling problem, just like a drinking problem or a drug problem, sometimes you can’t control your actions,” Kane said. “I think part of the worst thing that ever happened to me was winning big, because you think you can do it again. When you’re an athlete, the competitive juices are flowing. And then when you lose, it even bothers you even more. You just keep digging a deeper hole. At the end of the day, it’s something that I went through and I’m looking forward to moving [on].”
Kane said he sought professional help for his gambling addiction.
“I had my daughter [Kensington]. I filed for bankruptcy. These are decisions that obviously I didn’t take lightly,” he said. “I knew part of the reason of why I was where I was, was because of gambling. I’m not going to go back to that point in my life. So gambling can’t continue to live with me. And I’ve understood that.”
There have been reports that some of Kane’s teammates with the Sharks don’t want him back with the team next season. The winger, who has 87 goals in 212 games with San Jose since being traded there from the Buffalo Sabres in 2018, has four years and $26 million left on his contract.
“I didn’t really have a reaction,” Kane said of his response to the reports. “The media does what the media does. Certain members of the media [that] feel that they have an ear in the room or unidentified sources really mean nothing to me.”
He said he doesn’t “necessarily know or believe” that there is friction with teammates, to the point where the Sharks would seek to get rid of him.
“I’ve heard rumors about me being traded. Well, I have a [no-trade] list that they can only trade me to and I haven’t even been asked for it, so I’m not getting traded. And I would know about it first,” he said.
Kane has had off-ice issues throughout his career. He was accused of assault twice while playing for the Sabres. In 2016, a woman said she suffered “serious, permanent and painful personal injuries” after an encounter with Kane in a hotel room. No criminal complaint was filed, but police investigated and Kane was not charged.
Kane was accused of assault again in 2016 by multiple women who said he grabbed them at a Buffalo-area nightclub, and of an altercation with the club’s bouncer. He was charged with trespassing and separate non-criminal violations of disorderly conduct and harassment. Those charges were dropped as part of a plea bargain, with Kane staying out of trouble for six months.
“There’s a reason that I was able to continue playing hockey. It was business as usual for me, outside of the fact that I had to deal with all this outside noise, knowing that I didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “Could I have maybe made better decisions? Maybe not meeting these people or not putting myself in that situation. You live and you learn. But in terms of doing actually anything wrong, I knew that wasn’t the case. So again, that’s where I find my comfort, and really have been able to continue to do my job to the best of my ability.”
Kane said he understands his reputation in the NHL and off-ice news such as the gambling investigation have made him a divisive figure.
“I’m in a white sport [and] I’m a Black player. I have a big personality that maybe sometimes rubs people the wrong way — but it’s not meant to. I think unfortunately a lot of the issues I’ve had and the allegations that have been made about me are just completely not true,” he said. “I’m not looking for people [to] feel sorry for me. That’s the last thing I need. I’m not looking for people to feel bad for me. I’m just asking to be treated fairly and judged accordingly.”