The San Jose Sharks are firing Evander Kane. He’s been placed on unconditional waivers by the team for breaching Covid-19 Protocols. Assuming he isn’t claimed by another team, the Sharks intend to terminate his contract. If the Sharks succeed in doing that, the team would walk away from paying Kane what’s left on his deal, which is $22.8 million over the next 4 years.
At law, terminating a contract is a big deal particularly when it’s worth millions of dollars. The Sharks have wanted to part ways with Kane for some time and the team feels as though it can do that.
In order to terminate Kane’s contract for good cause (or just cause as it’s commonly referred to), the Sharks need to show that Kane engaged in serious misconduct in violation of the Shark’s Covid-19 Protocols. In these types of cases, typically a single incident is insufficient to support termination without pay.
The problem for Kane is this isn’t an isolated incident. He previously submitted a fake vaccination card or at the very least was suspended for 21 games by the NHL for violating Covid-19 Protocols.
And now, it’s reported he travelled to Vancouver while positive with Covid-19. If that’s the case, the Sharks likely have a sufficient basis to meet the “good cause” threshold and fire Kane without pay.
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The NHLPA has declared it will grieve the termination, and as it should. Its mandate is to protect the best interests of its player membership, and in cases where it believes there has been a grave miscarriage of justice, it must take action. Here, the NHLPA will want to contest what it sees as a flawed application of good cause law. To allow this termination to go uncontested is to allow a dangerous precedent to stand.
As far as a defence to the termination, Elliotte Friedman has reported that there may be a dispute over whether Kane received medical clearance from the team to travel. If that’s the case, then this may serve as a viable defence.
As is always the case, the merits of success will turn on the facts and evidence as well as the application of the law. So as this case unfolds, we should get a better sense as to where things stand for Kane.
Kane will not get his job back with the Sharks; he’s done as a Shark. The issue at this point is money. And if Kane has indeed engaged in multiple violations of the team’s Covid-19 protocols, he stands on the weaker side of the case.