Zack Kassian Suspended for 8 Games, Dale Weise for 3

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: 

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?

  • BrudnySeaby

    “While I know that there will be a group of Canucks fans out there that will bring up how the league has it out for them”

    Isn’t that pretty much ALL Canuck fans?

    Embrace the hate…

  • KleptoKlown

    Yep. Results based suspension. Tough to be too upset by the decision. It would’ve been nice to see him try and get something going with the Sedins during pre-season when it doesn’t matter.

    Hopefully Gaunce and Horvat draw in for Kass and Weise.

  • Peachy

    All things considered, the events of last night have made me feel a lot better about ‘oooh Canucks fans are terrible people’ narrative. The reactions of Oiler fans every where reminded me a lot of the way when Steve Moore took out Naslund (a low point for Canucks fandom). Even the mighty Tyler Dellow showed himself to be little more than substandard Oiler rabble, ranting on and on about Kassian being tried court.

    They don’t have the population to wreck-up an international city (or an international city to wreck-up for matter, for that matter), so it’s nice to see evidence they’re capable of the same level of smuckdom as the rest of Canada.

    • Peachy

      Yeah, just keep in mind that the injury may well torpedo the Oilers’ shot at the playoffs this year. They’re predicted to be on the bubble, and say 10 games with Gordon as their effective #1 centre… well, they may well be done.

      Some of the posts on Oilers Nation are truly disgusting.

  • KleptoKlown

    I’m a little surprised at the the length for Kassian as Keith got 5 games for a pre-meditated elbow to the head of Sedin that resulted in a significant injury. Wait, I’ve seen the league suspend before, I’m not surprised.

    I hear Weise is a friend of Clutterbuck and was just trying to deter that goon Hall from kneeing his buddy again. Isn’t that how it works?

  • I guarantee that if Kassian showed up in person and was a tad bit remorseful the suspension would have been less. Just look at his language “the guy” has a broken jaw, Gagne is a good player in the league and the least you could do is mention him by name. This incident has made me realize Kassian doesn’t get it and may never get it. I actually feel like he doesn’t care that he crushed Gagne’s jaw in a preseason game or at least takes no responsibility because it wasn’t done on purpose. Responsibility is something you grow into and unfortunately for some it takes way too long.

  • acg5151

    This is ridiculous. I think it’s clear that there is a double standard in he NHL at this point – a few teams like Edmonton, Chicago, Boston, Pittsburgh have been made the chosen few, and teams like the Vancouver Canucks are just full of evil players.

    I have no problem with suspending Zack Kassian, but 8 games? That’s ridiculous. This is like a 5 game max suspension.3 preseason, 2 regular season.

    Meanwhile, Duncan Keith can headshot Daniel Sedin and get a slap on the wrist. Brad Marchand can clip Sami Salo and get five games. Last season Corey Potter pulled a knee on knee hit on one of our guys and didn’t get any suspension at all.

    And remember that BS suspension on Raffi Torres at the end of 2011? Aaron Rome gets like 5 games for delivering a half second late check, but otherwise clean? There’s a pretty clear bias against the Canucks.

    • Peachy

      Or how about the time that a narrow exception was somehow found to get Torres out of a suspension, despite the fact that he nearly decapitated Seabrook?

      I think this is more the result of a bush league handing out suspensions in bush league fashion and us fans imagining a narrative. Edmonton is hardly a league favorite, and simply doesn’t fit into that narrative. It’s incompetence, not malice.

      • acg5151

        The Seabrook hit was a clean hit in a checking zone.

        Especially going back and watching it, he was in contention for the puck, and Seabrook had his head down.

    • Mantastic

      Yeah the league would look better and be more exciting with Dale Weise and Kassian in place of Hall and Gagner….

      Man, we have no scoring and will soon be the Hartford Whalers of the 1990’s.

  • I think the suspension is fine. This was at best, incredible stupid and uncoordinated by a skilled NHL player going into the boards under his own power. More likely, to me, is that Kassian instinctively flung around his stick, looking for a leg/torso slash and accidentally hit his head. If that slash was to the thighs, it would be forgotten immediately by everyone but Gagne.

    Take a look at the 32-26 second range in the video below a couple of times. Kassian swings around in an unnecessarily fast manner. The way he was stopping, he didn’t even have to spin. He could have stopped normally, and would have been facing the play. Instead, he whips around even before hitting the boards, and his stick breaks Gagne’s jaw.

    It could have easily been a stumble that caused him to flail around and the stick to the head part was a complete accident… But I think 5 is fair (given the results-oriented nature of suspensions, and their historic inconsistency).

  • Peachy

    I think Kassian wanted to hit him with the stick but did not want to hit him in the face. Reckless . It is like shooting a bullet in the air and it hits someone, you did not intend to hit the person but it is on the shopping list of things that can happen.

    • DCR

      I agree, but if you know your stupid shot hit someone you should at least be remorseful for what transpired. Kassian needs to grow up. He is getting a shot with the number one line and just blew the first five games. Should have flown to NYC and been a man and faced Shanny…, instead 10 mins on the phone. Weak

    • DCR

      I agree, but if you know your stupid shot hit someone you should at least be remorseful for what transpired. Kassian needs to grow up. He is getting a shot with the number one line and just blew the first five games. Should have flown to NYC and been a man and faced Shanny…, instead 10 mins on the phone. Weak

    • DCR

      I agree, but if you know your stupid shot hit someone you should at least be remorseful for what transpired. Kassian needs to grow up. He is getting a shot with the number one line and just blew the first five games. Should have flown to NYC and been a man and faced Shanny…, instead 10 mins on the phone. Weak

  • DCR

    Now we wait and see what Phil Kessel gets for intentionally taking two axe chops at the ankle of an enforcer – clear intent to injure, but in that case it was a skill player (and star) assaulting a journeyman plug tough guy. Even if you think the first slash could be explained as heat-of-the-moment rage, the second has to be considered pre-meditated.

    My guess? He gets no regular season games. Because of course he doesn’t. NHL supplemental discipline is no less a joke than it’s ever been.

    Kassian is now the longest-suspended player for a stick infraction in Shanahan’s tenure by a factor of four – his suspension is four times longer the next closest player. That’s pretty absurd for an unintentional play.

    The fact that this got eight while Keith’s intentional elbow to Sedin’s face causing a concussion and causing him to miss playoff games got five tells you all you need to know.

    • Peachy

      The event that sticks out most to me was Keith’s two hander to Daniel Sedin’s back last season. Intent to injure, not a hockey play, the puck was already in the Hawks’ net, etc, etc. Nothing.

      The bottom line is that if an injury doesn’t occur, there’s no suspension. At worst, Kessel misses a single pre-season game for the sake of appearances.

  • DCR

    I think they got it wrong, mainly because it is results-based.

    Weise deserved at least what he got, and probably into the regular season. That’s the kind of head shot the game doesn’t need.

    Kassian did more damage, but it was more of an accident. Yes, he was reckless, but I think 8 games was too much given there was no intent to injure or history.

  • Mantastic

    This shouldn’t be surprising. We know the NHL suspends based on facts. The only facts the NHL has at its disposal are the outcome (degree of injury), what actually transpired (stick swinging incident resulting with contact to the fact) and previous suspension history (none in the NHL).

    Determining intent with any degree of certainty is impossible. And besides, we do know there was a degree of intent. Kassian INTENDED to hit Gagner with his stick. A really unfortunate outcome, but at the end of the day, if you don’t want to risk suspension don’t do things that you can be suspended for.

    8 games sucks for the Canucks, but guys, let’s be realistic here; This is WAYYY worse for Oilers fans. Gagner is gone like 6-8 weeks, and will probably have to wear a full face shield for a while after coming back anyway.

    • Mantastic

      The thing is, we do not know that Kassian INTENDED to hit Gagner with his stick. We have the result, and we have slow motion replays of the failed hit and resulting high stick, but his intention can only be inferred.

      …your mileage may vary, but people really will read into an event based on their preconceptions. For some, especially Oilers fans, the fact he spun around so quick just confirms that he was head hunting and aiming for Gagner’s head. For others, they see his stick swing and assume that he clearly intended to swing it to hit Gagner… For some Canucks fans, it looked unintentional but really was a reckless and foolish action to not control his stick like that.

      …and hey some people think it wasn’t even suspension worthy.

      But as you said, determining intent with any degree of certainty is impossible… unlike the Keith high-stick on Carter four months ago, where Carter slashes Keith’s hand and Keith one hands him in the face as he skates away, the tape doesn’t really show any definite intention by Kassian to smack Gagner, either in the face or otherwise. All we can see is the action and the result, anything else really depends on where you’re coming from.

      …that said Kassian needs to control his stick, I don’t know many who would argue against that. For that he probably does deserve a suspension. The lack of consistency in suspension lengths for a number of suspensions in the NHL is frustrating though.
      Keith’s intentional high-stick causes Carter to lose teeth and get 20 stitches, he’s a repeat offender but a star player and in the playoffs = 1 game.
      Kassian’s unintentional high-stick causes Gagner to break his jaw, not an offender in the NHL and in a preseason game = 8 games(3 preseason/5 regular season).

      Is it really any wonder Canucks fans are frustrated?

      That said I do hope Gagner recovers quick, as you don’t want to see that kind of injury happen to anyone… and its understandable Oilers fans are upset and frustrated at losing another of their top centers, but seriously some of these Oilers fans calling for blood, or comparing the high-stick to Keith’s elbow on Sedin really need to get their heads out of whatever orifice they may be stuck in. 😐

      • Mantastic

        you don’t break jaws with unintentional high sticks. how many high sticks to peoples faces are there in the NHL? have you seve seen broken bones cause by an unintentional high stick? missing/broken teeth yes but not facial bones…

        • Mantastic

          You don’t break jaws with unintentional high-sticks? …seriously? Its a hard piece of lumber/graphite or other composite material, of course you can break someone’s jaw with an unintentional high-stick. The fact that Kassian’s stick swung hard enough to do that doesn’t prove intent whatsoever.

          …Shanahan himself has had an incident where he apparently broke Brendan Morrison’s jaw with a presumably unintentional high-stick in 2003. Couldn’t find a better link off of google right away but this incident has also been mentioned in many Canuck related threads on various forums.

          Unintentional injuries to either oneself or to other players happen all the time… the amount of force required to break someone’s jaw versus just a few teeth is not something that requires premeditation, just carelessness… so, what was your point exactly?

          Intent or not, Kassian needs to control his stick, yes? …but all the armchair lawyers/mindreaders telling us what Kassian meant to do is just a little ridiculous.

          …and my point is that it is equally ridiculous that a similar incident only four months prior by a repeat offender where intent WAS clearly established got 1 game, whereas this got 8 games.

          Give me some consistency, and I really don’t care how many games Kassian got, hopefully he smartens up, but the NHL’s current suspension policy just leaves more questions than answers.

  • DCR

    Fair suspension. Dumb, reckless and thoughtless play and results in a significant injury. Intent wasn’t there but that doesn’t matter. Just because the league is completely irrational and inconsistent (see Keith, Duncan) doesn’t mean this isn’t deserved.

    But they also need to do something about troglodytes like Ben Eager who announces their intentions to go after the Canucks players.

  • JCDavies

    While it sucks that this happened, if something like this was going to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better time or to a better position. The Canucks have a lot of options on the wing right now. It would have been much worse if it happened a couple weeks from now.

    • “While it sucks that this happened, if something like this was going to happen, it couldn’t have happened at a better time or to a better position.”

      Exactly. Now the Oilers will have to use Boyd Gordon as their #1 centre!

      Actually, that’s pretty tasteless…

  • Regardless of where it hit Gagner, Kassian was obviously swinging his stick at another player.

    The fact he did it with his arm extended at shoulder height, and with enough force to break a guys jaw in two places just shows he knew what he was doing.

    If you think that this play was just ‘reckless’, that’s fine (but wrong IMO), but even still, shouldn’t we be trying to deter that as well as stupid hits like Weiss’s as well?