“How does the NHL let a compulsive gambling addict still play when he’s obviously throwing games to win money?”

This is what the ex-wife of the Edmonton Oilers winger Evander Kane wrote on Instagram in the summer of 2021, sparking one of the biggest NHL scandals of the century.

Anna Kane’s post shook the NHL world, but not everyone was surprised. Many accepted her allegations at face value, given Kane’s reputation for being one of the biggest gamblers in hockey. Plus, it wasn’t a secret that the then-San Jose Sharks player desperately needed money.

Only a few months earlier, Evander Kane files for bankruptcy after being unable to pay off $26.8 million in debt. In the filing, he listed that $1.5 million of debt came from gambling.

Knowing all this, it’s no surprise that the NHL officials were prompt to launch an investigation.

Evander Kane Gambling Scandal Goes Away

Now a 31-year-old, Evander Kane is known as an NHL bad boy after amassing a plethora of controversies throughout his career. Still, most of his problems have nothing to do with hockey but gambling. In 2019, Kane was in dispute after allegedly refusing to pay a $500,000 casino marker at The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas. For this, he got sued by the casino.

Kane is also (in)famous for being one of the biggest bettors in the NHL, with his teammates revealing his passion for football and basketball betting. However, according to ESPN, Kane’s colleagues pointed out that he never discussed betting on hockey, an activity banned in the NHL. As per the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) rules, players can bet on any sport other than hockey.

That’s precisely what Kane’s defense was regarding his wife’s betting claims. He denied he had anything to do with hockey betting. He suggested that his estranged wife’s actions were motivated by distress due to their divorce.

The NHL investigation of the Evander Kane betting scandal revealed no foul play; hence, he was not suspended. In March 2023, he’s playing for the Edmonton Oilers under a contract that adds $6,250,000 to his account per year. This suggests that he’s still far away from paying off his debts.

Other Betting Scandals That Rocked the NHL

The Evander Kane controversy is on a long list of hockey players whose gambling habit resulted in serious financial problems. In 2003, legendary Jaromir Jagr lost half a million through online gambling. A few years later, Thomas Vanek was sued by a bookmaker for allegedly not paying $10 million worth of lost bets. 

They all got into financial trouble, but none was penalized by the NHL. The reason? They did not bet on hockey.

Some players, however, did bet on hockey and were caught red-handed. The best example is the 1948 NHL betting scandal that involved two significant stars – Don Gallinger and Billy Taylor.

More recently, Operation Slapshot by New Jersey state police resulted in the inducement of several big names from the hockey world. Janet Jones, the wife of the NHL GOAT Wayne Gretzky, was implicated in illegal betting, along with the former Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Rick Tocchet and several others.

Tocchet was the only person affiliated with the NHL to get sentenced, but even he avoided jail time. Instead, he was put on probation for two years. It expired in 2006, after which the NHL allowed him to return.

Just a few months after his comeback, Tocchet moved to Florida, where he was appointed the Tampa Bay Lightning boss – his first job as the head coach.

Fast-forward to 2023, and Tocchet is still in the business, currently employed as the boss of the Vancouver Canucks.