The National Hockey League has suspended San Jose Sharks’ forward Evander Kane after an investigation found that he submitted a forged vaccination card earlier this year. He will be barred from playing for 21 games and forgo $1.68 million of his $7 million salary, with the forfeited cash going toward the league’s Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
“We are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the [National Hockey League Players’ Association],” the San Jose Sharks said in a statement following the announcement by the league. Kane, who did not play in Sunday’s season opener, said in his own statement that he “made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for.”
As U.S. professional sports leagues encourage athletes and staff to get their shots in order to return to normal play (and normal profits) after two seasons impacted by the coronavirus, the NHL has seen remarkable success in its vaccination effort: Last week, just four active players had not yet been vaccinated, according to commissioner Gary Bettman. While NHL COVID-19 protocol has “strongly encouraged” players to get vaccinated, the league did not mandate full vaccination, instead requiring unvaccinated players to forfeit the salary for games they missed if they tested positive for the virus.
The investigation into Kane’s illegal vaccine card is not the only inquiry into his alleged behavior conducted by the league in recent months. On September 22, the day that the NHL announced the investigation into Kane’s forged vaccine status, the league cleared him of allegations that he bet on his own games, a claim made by his estranged wife, Anna Kane. In the same statement on Monday suspending him for roughly a quarter of the season, the NHL also announced that a concurrent investigation into alleged domestic abuse toward his wife — including sexual assault and domestic battery — found that the allegations “could not be substantiated.”