Evander Kane begins his first practice with San Jose Barracuda

SAN JOSE – Evander Kane took part in his first practice back with the Sharks’ organization in over five months Tuesday. But instead of skating on the south rink at Solar4America Ice, where he was for over three seasons, Kane was on the north rink, practicing for the first time with the Sharks’ top minor league affiliate, the Barracuda.

Shortly before the start of practice at 10:15 a.m., Kane stepped onto the ice with Barracuda coach Roy Sommer, passing by a handful of photographers and videographers on the way. He was in an unfamiliar-looking yellow jersey, instead of the white or teal practice jerseys he wore with the Sharks.

Kane’s linemates were different, too. By the end of last season, Tomas Hertl, Alexander Barabanov, and himself had formed the Sharks’ top line. Tuesday, he was with Kyle Topping and Steenn Pasichnuk, two players at 26 and 22, respectively, who have NHL dreams, but are on AHL contracts.

Kane and other Barracuda players listened intently to assistant coach Jimmy Bonneau as he explained one drill just after the start of practice. A few minutes later, fellow assistant Michael Chiasson explained another drill. The AHL, after all, is a developmental league.

Toward the end of practice, the Barracuda played 3-on-3 hockey. In one sequence, forward Joachim Blichfeld was skating to chase down a loose puck and create a breakaway, but Kane, with long, fluid strides, caught Blichfeld from behind and took the puck away.

Kane, a veteran of 769 NHL games, is the oldest player on the Barracuda roster at 30 years old. The second-oldest is defensemen Jaycob Megna at 28, but the majority of the players on the team are on entry-level contracts, still trying to solidify themselves in the Sharks’ organization.

Kane began his career as an 18-year-old in 2009 with the Atlanta Thrashers — just months after he was drafted fourth overall — and has never played in an AHL game.

The Sharks on Sunday placed Kane was on waivers. He cleared waivers on Monday, and as he said he would do, reported to the Barracuda for its practice Tuesday at Sharks Ice.

It’s the first step in what the forward hopes will be an eventual return to the NHL.

Kane’s 21-game suspension for violating the NHL’s COVID-19 Protocol officially ended after the Sharks’ game on Sunday against the Chicago Blackhawks, and he will remain with the Barracuda for an indefinite period.

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Author: Curtis Pashelka