September 23 2013 04:25PM
VAN's Zack Kassian gets 5 regular season games and rest of pre-season for highsticking Gagner.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 23, 2013
News came down the pike on Sunday afternoon that Zack Kassian was offered the opportunity for an in-person hearing regarding the incident that took place on Saturday night in Edmonton (he declined it, settling to do it over the phone). Now, after hours and hours of waiting for the verdict to be handed down, we've finally learned that Kassian will miss 8 games in total (5 of which mean something). Dale Weise also received a slap on the wrist for a play from the same game.
Here's the play in question, for those of you that missed it:
When asked about the incident, Kassian had the following things to say: "The guy has a broken jaw. You never want to see that happen. But if you look at the replay, it's hard to purposely tomahawk and swing your stick and hit somebody in the face."
I don't think Zack Kassian is necessarily a "dirty" player, and I certainly don't believe that he intentionally meant to strike Sam Gagner in the face on this play, which some conspiracy theorists would lead you to believe. What initially seemed like a troll job on Twitter last night, turned into a hilariously unironic attempt to classify what Kassian did as a "criminal act". It provided for great commercial break entertainment during a jam-packed Sunday night television slate.
With that being said, there's no denying that what Kassian did was reckless, and it can't go unpunished. You have to be responsible for your actions, and your stick. I'm actually quite okay with the supplemental discipline dished out by the NHL in this instance. Though I know that there will be some Canucks fans out there that will use this as an example of the league having it out for them. All I know is that I'm pretty much ready to stop debating this, because it's all getting pretty tiresome and repetitive.
So where do we go from here? From Kassian's perspective, I still think he'll be given a long leash to make it work with the Sedins on the top line once he gets back into the lineup on October 12th (when the Canucks host the Canadiens on Hockey Night in Canada). Whether he'll succeed in doing so and stick, we'll see. But the team has a lot invested in him and the coach loves the idea of using Alex Burrows on the 2nd line, so he's got that working for him. For the time being though, the big winner from all of this could be Hunter Shinkaruk; with a top-6 role on the wing now open for 5 games, he could be the front-runner for the gig during that time, and still be sent back down to Medicine Hat once Kassian returns. As recently as a week ago I thought the chatter of him making the team was silly, but now it's looking like a distinct possibility..
Obviously when anything like this happens, fans want blood, and the Oilers seemed to be cognisant of that when they made their hockey team worse by claiming noted goon Steve MacIntyre off of waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins. MacIntyre, who has 144 career fights under his belt (spanning 5 different levels) is a goon through and through, and without Kassian in the lineup, I feel bad for resident face puncher Tom Sestito, who will earn his pay by taking a walloping (when the two teams meet on October 5th at Rogers Arena). These staged fights where players supposedly "face the music" remain one of the dumbest things in professional sports.
Oh yeah, there's also this:
Hearing VAN's Weise suspended for balance of pre-season for hit on EDM's Taylor Hall. Awaiting announcement from NHL.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) September 23, 2013
For what it's worth, I think Weise should have received a heftier suspension. What he did is the type of play we've all been clamouring for the NHL to get out of its game. Reckless, stupid, unnecessary, and incredibly dangerous. He doesn't miss a single regular season game, and essentially gets away with it. I highly doubt that this meek slap on the wrist will get the point across.
What are your thoughts on the two suspensions? Too high? Too low? Or just right?