Could Kassian be facing an automatic suspension for physical abuse of an official?

Photo Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin/USA TODAY Sports

In the second period of Saturday night’s 4-1 Vancouver Canucks victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Canucks forward Zack Kassian lost his damn mind. 

The burgeoning power forward was attempting to get to Dion Phaneuf and fight him, but a linesman all but wrestled him to the ground. Not that it stopped Kassian from pursuing the fight. Did Kassian pursue the fight with too much verve? Could he be facing an automatic suspension as a result?

Let’s get into it on the other side of the jump.

Here’s footage of the incident, courtesy’s Pat Iversen:

Once the dust settled, Kassian was assessed a two-minute minor for roughing, an additional 10-minute major penalty for roughing, and a mysterious 10-minute game misconduct. 

That misconduct was for not having his fight strap or tie-down secured, according to the Vancouver Sun’s Iain MacIntyre. The problem with that is that, well, his tie-down was secured (you can see the white strap on the right side): 

Kassian admitted post game that he wasn’t sure whether or not his misconduct was tie-down related, or for pushing the referee. So this isn’t exactly a clear cut case, but if the misconduct was indeed for physical abuse of an official, then he’s facing a mandatory suspension. 

Canucks general manager Jim Benning, by the way, sounds like that’s precisely what he expects to occur:

So what sort of suspension is Kassian looking at? Let’s open our copies of the NHL rulebook to page 64, and check out the wonder of rule 40 – ‘physical abuse of an official.’

Here’s the most important part for our purposes, the NHL’s outline of ‘the process.’

Immediately after the game in
which such game misconduct penalty is imposed, the Referees shall,
in consultation with the Linesmen, decide the category of the offense.
They shall make a verbal report to the League’s Director of Hockey
Operations and advise of the category and of the offense. In addition,
they shall file a written report to the Director of Hockey Operations in
which they may request a review as to the adequacy of the

So in other words, it probably hasn’t been decided yet whether Kassian will face automatic supplementary discipline for losing his damn mind on Saturday night.

Here’s how the rule itself is defined:

Any player who deliberately applies physical
force in any manner against an official, in any manner attempts to
injure an official, physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical
force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an
official during or immediately following an altercation shall receive a
game misconduct penalty.

If Kassian’s behaviour qualifies as anything, it’s probably the latter two points that he should be concerned about: “physically demeans, or deliberately applies physical force to an official solely for the purpose of getting free of such an official during or immediately following an altercation.” Actually that’s pretty much to the letter what seems to have occurred here, at least in my view. 

So unless the on-ice officials are feeling charitable and are willing to pretend that Kassian’s fight strap came undone, then this will likely come with a three game suspension as per rule 40.4 of the NHL rulebook. That is unless the on-ice officials and the league decide that Kassian’s push was an example of him more directly applying physical force to the official without intent to injure, in which case this could be a 10 gamer. 

We’ll have to wait and see. 

  • Vanoxy

    Ironic that Kass is in this position now, since he’s still sporting that shiner from Reaves jumping over an Official to sucker him.

    Probably should be a suspension, as the rule is laid out. Hopefully they cut him some slack on it though.

    Kass needs to smarten up. He’s got a golden opportunity right now, better not blow it by being a bonehead.

  • Stan-O

    Oh, I would totally compare professional hockey player physically attacking a ref to a professional writer penning a brilliant line like “lost his damn mind”.

    If a suspension is warranted in one case, it surely is warranted in the other.

    • Ruprecht

      A professional writer around here would be a nice change of pace to Drance’s weekly trolling.

      Nothing to see here, no suspension. Kass wasn’t looking at the official and Lupul was tying him up at the same time the official was, the official then stepped on a stick. Had anything happened, it would have been called immediately on the ice. No messing around Ref’s do not tolerate that stuff, ever.

      That said, Kass is kinda going off the rails lately. Somebody needs to reign him in before he does something really stupid that costs us.

        • Ruprecht

          Homer?? No I’m being a realist. Nobody knows what goes on during those scrums more than the officials involved them. As it was, he and the official were in the middle of about 3 guys grabbing at them and at least one dropped stick. It’s my thinking that if he crossed a line, then the official involved in that scrum would have made the call right then and there. They at least get together and discuss what calls are being made afterward. They have zero tolerance for abuse of an official on the ice, so you’d think if the call was to be made they’d have thrown the book at him right then and there.

          Contrary to being a homer, I just think they got the call right regardless of team.

  • andyg

    I feel sorry for Kass. If he plays a tough style with lots of emotion then fans think he needs to tame it down. If he plays a game with out emotion then he is called down for that.

    All I know is that as he went through the bench on his way to the dressing room he got high fives from the team. This is what we will need him to do in the play offs.

    Lets leave it up to the coaching staff to help him find the line that he will need to follow.

  • peterl

    I doubt Kassian will receive a suspension. I didn’t sense a lot of outrage at the time. The HNiC crew didn’t really talk that much about it. Not a lot of talk on social media about Kassian being suspended.

    There is a bit of grey area here. It doesn’t look like Kassian targeted the official. He was solely looking to engage Phaneuf. But in the process there is a physical altercation with the official.

    If it was personal opinion, I do think Kassian should be suspended for this. The line between engaging an official should be thin. If there is some sort of physical altercation with an official, I would rather suspend the player a send a message to the league that officials cannot be physically engaged at all.

  • peterl

    If he does get suspended its a BS call. Intentionally abusing an official…. If an official gets between two guys trying to fight, what possibly could happen.

    Phaneuf is a poof….. Was the official protecting the looks of a Captain?!