If you thought you didn’t have to pay attention to pre-season hockey, think again. Or just pay attention to Vancity Buzz, because we’ll fill you in.
Zack Kassian broke Edmonton Oiler Sam Gagner’s jaw with an errant stick swing Saturday, and the league announced today he’ll be suspended for the remainder of the preseason (three games) plus five regular season games.
From TSN‘s Bob McKenzie:
VAN’s Zack Kassian gets 5 regular season games and rest of pre-season for highsticking Gagner.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 23, 2013
Kassian’s hit on Gagner
The hit according to Kassian, from Steve Ewen of the Province:
Kassian said that he was trying to throw a hit on Gagner when Gagner stopped suddenly. Kassian lost control, swung around, and caught him with a one-handed swing of his stick.
Kassian himself: (from Ben Kuzma of the Province)
“I had no intention of slashing him (Gagner) in the face… It was definitely accidental and hopefully he (Gagner) gets back sooner than later.”
There are a few ways to look at the hit (I’m writing out the options in this way to line up with Bruce Arthur’s take below).
Option A: There was at least partial (if not more) intent from Kassian to hurt Gagner.
Option B: It could’ve been a complete accident as Kassian said.
Bruce Arthur of the National Post‘s take:
Maybe Kassian wasn’t trying to hit Gagner in the jaw, but he was either swinging his stick with the intent to hurt the guy who had just evaded his hit, or he has all the balance of a seal on skates. I’m going with option A, myself, and believe a heavy suspension is warranted.
My take is it was a mistake. But it was a massive, idiotic mistake, and an NHL player should have more control over his stick. If he can’t, he should suffer the consequences.
For Canucks fans, it’s all bad news. We’ve all been eagerly waiting to see Kassian play with the Sedins after his early-season success with them last year. We might have seen it earlier had the line not been inexplicably torn apart by the confusing decision making of ex-coach Alain Vigneault.
Anyway, now that the length has been decided, we can debate the consistency of the NHL’s suspensions, as we always do.
Oh, by the way, Dale Weise has been suspended for the remainder of the preseason for his hit on Taylor Hall. This one might be a little less meaningful to Canucks fans, hence the one line mention. Sorry Dale…
The NHL’s ruling
There you have it. While Brendan Shanahan agrees Kassian may not have meant to hit Gagner in the face, he believes Kass is responsible for the high-stick and for the injury that resulted.
Canucks fans will rant and rave about this suspension and about consistency, but let’s be honest for a second – if, for example, Jannik Hansen’s jaw was broken by Nail Yakupov’s stick, Vancouver would be up in arms, and we’d hear things like, “That was a reckless play! If Hansen’s missing 10 games, so should Yakupov, whether he meant to injure him or not.”
Like it or not, Kassian should’ve made more effort to keep his stick down.
Image: Flickr user Loxy!!