Oilers' Zack Kassian receives seven-game suspension after kicking opponent with skateSporting News — firstname.lastname@example.org (Sporting News)
Exactly one month to the day after the Edmonton Oilers' Zack Kassian earned himself a two-game suspension for lighting up Calgary's Matthew Tkachuk, he's been disciplined by the league again.
On Friday night, NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Kassian has been suspended for seven games for kicking. The eight-year NHL veteran was seen trying to kick the Lightning's Erik Cernak in the chest with his skate during a scrum in the first period of Thursday night's game in Tampa Bay.
The NHL deemed him a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement and, based on his average annual salary, he will forfeit $166,463.43.
"He was holding my leg, it was reactionary, I was just trying to get him off me, kick him off," Kassian said after the game. "If I kicked him hard, I think he would have flew back or the ref would have called a penalty. I was trying to get off and pull my leg off. He was holding me and Archie [Josh Archibald] down, I didn't even know where the puck was. I was trying to pull my leg up and get up. It felt like we were there a lifetime, we were down there for a while."
Cernak told reporters he thought Kassian was "a little bit mad" during the incident and was thankful the Oilers' skate wasn't any higher.
Kassian waived his right to an in-person hearing, instead opting for a phone hearing Friday afternoon with the NHL's department of player safety, giving the league the option to suspend him for six games or more.
It's far from the first time Kassian has dealt with disciplinary issues in his career — his first run-in with the league was back in 2013 as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. He was suspended for the first five games of the 2013-14 season for an intentional high-stick. He was suspended again for three games later that season after a dirty hit on Dallas' Brenden Dillon.
The suspension for Thursday's incident is the fourth disciplinary suspension of his career and he is eligible to return for the Oilers' game against Winnipeg on Feb. 29.