Zack Kassian has waived his right to an in-person hearing for his kick on Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak on Thursday night. As a result, the veteran forward will have a hearing this afternoon at 4:00 pm est via phone.
Kassian was tangled on the ice with Cernak during the first period of Thursday’s 3-1 loss to the Lightning. During their scrum on the ice, Kassian and Cernak tried to separate to no avail. As Kassian was attempting to pull away, he kicked Cernak in the chest. No penalty was called on the ice.
Kassian, for his part in the incident, expressed surprised postgame in Tampa.
“It felt like we were there a lifetime. We were down there for a while,” Kassian told reporters in the dressing room. “He was holding my leg, it was reactionary. I was just trying to get him off me, kick him off me. I was just trying to get my foot loose.”
Cernak didn’t react in the moment, but certainly took note of the kick from Kassian.
“He kicked me right in the chest, so luckily that wasn’t higher,” Cernak said postgame. “I knew right away when he was on the ice he kicked me. I think he was a little bit mad and I asked him what was wrong with him, because that’s not a right play to do on the ice.”
Even though Kassian waived his right to an in-person hearing, he can still be suspended for six or more games because he was offered said hearing. Kassian was suspended two-games last month for an incident against the Calgary Flames on January 11th.
The Oilers play in Florida tomorrow afternoon and in Carolina on Sunday. A resolution should be expected sooner rather than later.
Kassian is a veteran and a leader on this team. There is absolutely no excuse for him to be facing his second suspension of the season. His first suspension was all about getting revenge on Mathew Tkachuk. This one will be for making a stupid play because he couldn’t control his emotions.
Kassian is a good player, a valuable player. That said, the Oilers should be extremely disappointed with him. Both Connor McDavid and James Neal are on IR and the Oilers badly need all their forwards in the lineup. Kassian’s selfish act is going to take him out of the lineup for the second time in as many months. It’s unacceptable.
Stay tuned for more as it happens.