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Zack Kassian Suspended Seven Games For Kicking Cernak

Zack Kassian suspended seven games for his kick to Tampa Bay Lightning d-man Erik Cernak.

Zack Kassian Suspended
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Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian has been suspended seven games for his skate-blade first kick on Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak Thursday evening. He was awaiting a ruling from the NHL Player Safety Committee, which came late Friday according to TSN’s Bob McKenzie.

Kassian waived his right to an in-person hearing and instead decided he wanted to hear his fate or make his case over the phone Friday afternoon at 4 pm Eastern Time.

John Shannon tweeted the hearing was complete around 5:10 pm Eastern and McKenzie tweeted the results of that hearing around 8 pm Eastern time.

There was plenty of talk Friday afternoon about what Kassian deserved. Some called the play dangerous, others reckless but not worthy of a lengthy suspension since no contact was actually made and the play wasn’t malicious. When asked, Kassian spoke to the media and said:

“That play he was holding my leg and it was just reactionary. I just tried to get loose. I was laying there awhile and I was trying to get my leg out and get moving.”

Clearly, Kassian didn’t think the play was egregious.

While it didn’t likely affect the ruling, downplaying the incident probably didn’t help matters. A player who was viewed in the right by many for the way he’d handled a couple greasy, but legal hits from Calgary Flames Matthew Tkachuk was all of a sudden, public enemy No. 1 after making what many deemed such a bone-headed decision. The play was dangerous and poorly-timed, even if was more reactionary than anything else.

Fans have reacted to the suspension news, many of them unhappy Kassian didn’t get the remainder of the season. According to John Shannon, the Oilers nor Kassian will appeal the decision.

Kassian’s previous suspension history played a role in the decision and there was a previous precedent set by the NHL for any sort of kicking motion when Jeff Skinner got two games and had no history of suspensions.

Related: Bouwmeester Undergoes Surgery, Questions Include NHL Future After ICD Device Implanted

Markus Granlund Called Up

In anticipation of the suspension news, the Oilers called up forward Markus Granlund and the team will try to patch together some lines after the Oilers first line of Connor McDavid, James Neal and Kassian are all currently out of the lineup.

Related: Maple Leafs Andreas Johnsson Out Eight Weeks

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