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 SBNation.com’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):
Why wouldn’t Kassian’s jersey be tied down? sure looked like it was pic.twitter.com/TSKps3GtnO
— Jason Botchford (@botchford) March 15, 2015
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:
Jim Benning says they haven’t gotten an explanation yet on Kassian but his opinion is the ref told him to stop and he didn’t. #Canucks
— Irfaan Gaffar (@sportsnetirf) March 15, 2015
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.