TheGrio's 100: Evander Kane, looking to make ice hockey cooler
TheGrio's 100 - Graced with a combination of speed, slickness and grit, the 18-year-old African-Canadian star's style is as unique as his look across NHL boundaries. But it's his talent that turns the most heads...
How fitting is it that Evander Kane was named after boxing legend Evander Holyfield?
Much like Holyfield, Kane seems intent on squeezing all that is humanely possible out of the sort of career many once predicted was illusionary.
As Holyfield continues a pro fight career that has amazingly spanned some 26-years, the rookie Atlanta Thrasher left winger follows suit, feverishly laying the foundation to an equally stunning legacy.
Graced with a combination of speed, slickness and grit, the 18-year-old African-Canadian star’s style is as unique as his look across NHL boundaries. But it’s his talent that turns the most heads.
“He always wants to make a difference on the ice,” said former junior circuit coach Don Hay to the NHL website in 2009. lot of players that age don’t want to be on the ice, or don’t want to be in that situation when the game is on the line, but Evander wants to be in that situation all the time.”
But then, the 6-1, 180-pound teen would have to be as tough as, well, a prizefighter, to even attempt the feats he’s achieved. When the Thrashers selected him as the fourth pick in the 2009 Entry Draft, Kane joined a list of less than 50 players of African descent to ever compete in the NHL. In addition, he also became the highest drafted born-and-raised player of Canadian heritage in nearly two decades.
“I’m not going to back down from a challenge… I think that is one of my biggest assets,” Kane said to the Thrashers website in 2009. “I want to be remembered as a winner, as a guy who helped bring hockey back to Atlanta.”
Truth be told, he couldn’t have chosen a much better place to settle than the southern metropolis, where impressed team execs have already began to feature their high-character, budding star in a number of franchise-level promotions aimed at making an impact on that area’s heavily represented African-American population.
“I think it’s really important,” said Kane of being a role model for black kids in Atlanta. It’s an opportunity, he says, he’s “definitely going to take advantage of.”