The Vancouver Canucks lost by a 6-1 score to the Dallas Stars on Thursday night. It wasn’t the only losing they’d go on to do on the night, though, as they also went on to lose Zack Kassian’s services for the next 3 games after the league announced that he’ll be suspended for his hit from behind on Canucks Army favourite, and Surrey native, Brenden Dillon.
You can watch the suspension video put out by the NHL and Brendan Shanahan for yourself right here. The league often finds itself in a difficult spot with these sorts of ruling, because they’re often subjective and one party is bound to take issue with the outcome. I’ve definitely been critical of the random, nonsensical nature of their process in the past.
This doesn’t appear to be one of those times. As the video mentions, Kassian – a repeat offender following his 5-game suspension all the way back in the preseason – sees Dillon’s numbers, and still decides to forcefully and dangerously shove him into the boards anyways. You’re essentially making your own bed when you decide to go through with something like that.
It was a mindless and unnecessary act by Kassian, who early in his career his rather quickly built up quite the resume of doing things he shouldn’t be doing out there. While some of those have been borderline and defensible, this one was pretty cut-and-dried.
After Dillon had gone after Alex Burrows in a scrum not too long prior, Kassian likely saw an opportunity to unleash some of the pent-up aggression that has come with all of the incessant losing while sticking up for his teammate. I guess it was a reasonable idea in theory, but executed very poorly. Even his own coach doesn’t have his back on this one.
While the Canucks look like they’re headed nowhere quick (except for the draft lottery), this is unfortunate timing for Kassian himself. He had established himself as an effective 3rd liner next to David Booth at the very least, playing some fine hockey for a while now. With Daniel Sedin out, he was thought to be a potential beneficiary, finally getting some long overdue time next to Henrik on the top line (and did so, playing 8 minutes at 5v5 next to him v. Phoenix the other night). Two steps forward, three steps back.
He’ll miss games against the Flames, Islanders, and Jets. Of note is the Flames game on Saturday night, considering what happened the last time those two teams met. Kassian wasn’t technically involved in the line brawl that started things off, but he seemed to be right in the middle of all of the physical stuff that took place as the contest went along, winding up with 16 penalty minutes next to his name.
He would’ve been a good mercenary were the Canucks out for another moral victory on Hockey Night in Canada. You have to assume they will be, based on how hard wins of any nature have been to come by in 2014.