Zack Kassian gets eight games for ‘recklessly swinging his stick’, breaking Gagner’s jaw [VIDEO]

As expected, the Department of Player Safety has chosen to swing the banhammer in Zack Kassian’s general direction, and we have good news and bad news on that front. The good news: fortunately for Kassian, the Department’s swing was not hard enough to break his jaw, so he got off easier than Sam Gagner.

The bad news: he still took a pretty big hit. Kassian will sit for the next eight games, the remaining three of the preseason, and the first five games of the season (meaning he’ll miss the rematch with the Oilers, which is probably for the best, since Steve MacIntyre will likely be in the lineup, looking to prove his relevance.) Kassian is eligible to return Saturday, October 12th versus the Montreal Canadiens.

We turn things over to Brendan Shanahan for the explanation.

“Recklessly swinging his stick and striking Gagner in the face and breaking his jaw” is a painful sentence for so many reasons. It’s a run-on, for one thing; it’s cringe-inducing for another; and it definitely doesn’t sound good for a guy’s hopes of getting off light. Jaw-breakers are supposed to be a delicious candy/choking hazard, not a type of hockey collision.

I had my say on this hit last night, and my gut reaction was that, disgusting as this play is, it didn’t strike me as a suspendable incident. It seemed, to me, to be a complete accident. But I also explained the interpretation under which I’d be 100% okay with Kassian getting a stiff suspension. We’ll call it the “partial accident” theory, where Kassian may not have intended to hit Gagner in the jaw with his stick, but he intended to hit Gagner with his stick, which is only one prepositional phrase different:

The league might see this incident as closer to Bouchard and Keith. They could argue that, like those two buffoons, Kassian’s act of dumbassery — which broke a dude’s jaw, remember — is the result of an attempt to swing for the midsection gone wrong due to his loss of balance. I don’t see it that way, but I can see how others might. If you think Kassian swung his stick with intent, even if the intent wasn’t to catch Gagner in the face, then by all means, ban him to kingdom come.

Shanahan doesn’t come right out and say it, but it’s easy to infer that this is how he saw the play after he points out a pretty damning observation: “Kassian begins the act of swinging his stick before he crashes into the boards.”

Well yeah, you would, especially if you’re trying to swivel and hit the boards flat with your back like Kassian is. But even still, while it’s possible that Kassian was indeed trying to steady himself, after the slowed-down second look provided by the DOPS, I’m definitely not as set on that as I was last night.

And that’s pretty much it for Kassian’s defence: “And while we accept Kassian’s assertion that he did not intend to strike Gagner in the face,” Shanahan says, “he is however responsible for the consequences of swinging his stick in this instance.”

Emphasis mine. Basically, Shanahan and the rest of his crew found that Kassian swung with intent. Maybe not intent to strike or break jaw, but intent to strike. There’s no place in the game for that. Under that interpretation, Kassian deserves to miss every single game he’ll miss.

11 comments

  1. akidd
    September 23, 2013

    that was reckless but i’m pretty sure kassian didn’t mean to hurt him…much. d. keith however….

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    • Chris the Curmudgeon
      September 23, 2013

      That Duncan Keith hit was one of the most under-punished plays in recent memory. Premeditated? Yes. To the head? Yes. Seriously injurious? Yes. I could never figure out why he was so lightly punished.

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      • Harrison Mooney
        September 23, 2013

        Not that it has or should have any bearing on this incident, but I fully agree. Keith is a DOPS darling, though. A full-blown suspension outlier.

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        • akidd
          September 23, 2013

          keith is the new matt cooke(since matt cooke has apparently decided he doesn’t want to be the old matt cooke.) it’s hard to figure keith out. he could be remembered as one of the best dmen of his generation. instead he seems to prefer the cheapshot-artist legacy and/or “most-hated in his home province.” strange.

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        • Cal
          September 23, 2013

          You couldn’t have said it better. Keith on Sedin and Keith’s wind-up-one-hander on Carter have to be 2 of the most blatant superstar favourtism moments in recent NHL history. Don’t get me started on Pronger or Chara because I can go all day!

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  2. peanutflower
    September 23, 2013

    Meh. It’s not terrible. It takes a pretty hefty blow to break someone’s jaw, usually. The inconsistency from the NHL is annoying, though. One gets the sense that Shanny is building up to a scenario where whenever someone does something even mildly egregious they are gone for the season. That’s right, the season. So a whole season of three on three hockey lol.

    That said, I do take offence to Eager’s threats. Aren’t those bordering illegality, as in uttering bodily threats? What a wanker. Probably the only reason to keep Sestito around is for every game the Canucks have to play against Edmonton this season. I don’t buy the “but now they won’t make the playoffs because Gagne’s out” thing. Come on, one guy doesn’t make that much of a difference. They have a whole team of superstars in Edmonton, right?

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    • Pavo
      September 23, 2013

      ‘What a wanker’.

      There’s a term I hardly ever hear in Canada, though it is standard lingo back in the UK. And totally applicable to Eager.

      Now if you could work ‘git’ into your posts now and then, it would make them even more fun to read :) !

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      • Kenji
        September 24, 2013

        No, we prefer to top it the nob over here. This is a posh blog.

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  3. PB
    September 23, 2013

    Gagner’s loss coupled with Nugent-Hopkins being out for a month will definitely impact the Oilers who for all their talented smurf forwards have yet to prove they are actually a team. But in terms of the suspension this seems about right. Reckless and dumb play but lacking intent.

    I cannot believe that the league does nothing about comments like Eager’s. Or that talentless hacks like Eager or Scott still populate the league. Completely useless. I still remember that SJ series where Eager’s own teammates had to tell him to STFU after scoring his one goal where they were getting blown out by the Canucks.

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  4. Neil B
    September 23, 2013

    I was pretty much good with this, until Shanny pronounced the sentence at the close. For the record & for future precedent, is this a 5-game suspension, plus the preseason, or an 8-game suspension?

    Or am I just parsing Shanny too closely?

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    • Wetcoaster
      September 23, 2013

      Suspended for 3 remaining pre-seasons games + 5 regular season games. For some reason, the news blurb on the NHL website isn’t counting the pre-season games.

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