Thrashers' top pick Kane was reared to play hockey

Last December, Kane was cut from Team Canada as it finalized its roster for the 2009 Junior World Hockey Championships. He was determined not to let such disappointment show. He certainly didn't believe he lacked the talent.

"It was the first time I had ever been cut from a team," said Kane, the Thrashers' 17-year-old first-round draft pick now participating in the team's six-day Prospect Development Camp.

He returned home, played a game for his Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League and prepared for Christmas break.

"I went in there wanting to make the team, and I felt that I could," Kane said. "I got cut and was definitely disappointed. I went back to Vancouver and wasn't going to pout, complain and moan, just prove to myself and everyone else that I could play at that level. I wanted to have a good year and help the Giants have a good year."

Just days after he was cut, he received a phone call from Team Canada coach Pat Quinn. An injury had opened a spot on the roster for a forward, and he wanted Kane to fill it.

"Being cut, definitely can hurt players mentally or it can help them," Kane said. "I wanted to show that I was good enough to be on that team. When they called me back, there was my opportunity and I wanted to make the most of it.

As his father put it: "In my opinion, he deserved a spot on that team. He played well enough," Perry Kane said. "... But he took it as a positive. Once he got an opportunity to go back I knew he would play well."

Kane had six points (two goals, four assists) in six games as Canada won the gold medal.

"It's a short tournament, but you really get to know everyone pretty well," said Thrashers prospect Angelo Esposito, also a member of Team Canada. "Evander is a good player. He's very strong. He's good in front of the net. He's good along the boards. He's a good addition to [the Thrashers]."

Kane was the No. 4 overall pick by the Thrashers. Thanks to his mother, Sheri Kane, perhaps two years ahead of schedule.

He started skating at age 3. No big deal for a child from Vancouver. His parents decided that they would start their son playing youth hockey at age 10. However his mother changed the timetable one day, when he was only eight.

"They wanted to make sure I had the skills so going in I would know what I was doing and be one of the better players," Kane said. "I really wanted to play, and my mom kind of saw that. My dad still wanted to make sure that I was good enough. My mom signed me up without my dad knowing, but he didn't care. I was happy that she did."

Here he is nine years later trying to earn a spot on the Thrashers roster.

For Kane, there is precedent for a rapid rise in hockey. He moved up through the youth-hockey ranks so fast he was playing in the WHL, even appearing in the 2007 Memorial Cup playoffs, at the age of 15.

While it was Kane's mother who let him play, it was his father, a collegiate hockey player and amateur boxer, who showed him how to play.

From a young age, he drilled his son in the art of skating and shooting.

"We would go out at least three times a week, probably more than that, and on the weekends," Kane said. "Other guys would just be skating around and shooting. He would be getting the cones out and run me through drills. We were always working on my skating and shooting. ... Not by coincidence, those are my best attributes."

Perry Kane had a plan. While junior teams were doing team-oriented drills to work within a system, he also worked his son on individual skills.

"It worked out nicely," Perry Kane said. "I stayed out of the way and we also focused on his fundamentals. ... I always knew he was good. The things we were doing, even when he was eight years old, gave him a chance to get to the National Hockey League."

Last season with Vancouver, Kane had 96 points (48 goals, 48 assists) in 61 games. He had risen to a top-five NHL prospect for the June draft. The 6-foot-1, 190 pound forward doesn't turn 18 until Aug. 2.

There also is a precedent for a rapid rise with the Thrashers.

Last year, the Thrashers selected defenseman Zach Bogosian with the No. 3 overall pick, and he made the team out of training camp as an 18-year-old.

"With Zach you just knew," Thrashers general manager Don Waddell said. "With his physicality, and he was ready mentally. After you spent time with him, you realized he was a kid, but he was ready to put on a man's role.

"This will be a good week for us to spend with Evander because, I've always said, all of a sudden you hand these kids hundreds of thousands of dollars, is that too much for an 18-year-old player? There's so much besides the hockey side that goes into [making an NHL roster]. We have to make sure that maturity-wise, he's there also."

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.