Oilers winger Zack Kassian has been offered an in-person hearing as a result of his kicking incident against Tampa Bay on Thursday night, the Department of Player Safety announced (Twitter link). This means that he could potentially be suspended for six or more games.
The incident occurred late in the first period with Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak. The two fell to the ice after Edmonton winger collided with the both of them. After all three were tangled up on the ice for a few seconds, Kassian kicked Cernak as the latter was trying to get up. No penalty was called on the play. The video of the incident can be found here.
Speaking with reporters postgame including Sportsnet’s Mark Spector, Kassian tried to downplay the incident:
It felt like we were there a lifetime. We were down there for a while. 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.
If I kicked him hard, I think he would have flew back or the ref would have called a penalty.
What will certainly work against Kassian here is that he received a two-game suspension just one month ago for instigating a fight against an unwilling combatant in Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk. To be in the crosshairs of the league once again that quickly won’t help his cause. Kassian has the right to decline to take up the offer for an in-person hearing and he has exercised that right. Instead, his hearing will be conducted by phone this afternoon but even with that happening, the league still can suspend him for more than the five games that a phone hearing allows.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie was the first to report that Kassian would be offered an in-person hearing.