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Latest: Kassian and Cernak Speak, In-Person Hearing News

The latest news on Zack Kassian and his skate shot at Erk Cernak is that he’s declined an in-person hearing. He tried to explain his actions.

After kicking Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak in the chest with his skate midway through the second period of the Edmonton Oilers loss to Tampa, social media went nuts over Kassian effective trying to use a blade to kick another player.

Some called it not much more than Zdeno Chara’s cross-check to the throat of Brendan Gallagher or two years ago when Jeff Skinner got two games for a similar incident as part of the Carolina Hurricanes. Others suggested Kassian be suspended the rest of the season and that he’d lost all sympathy gained from his incident with Matthew Thachuk.

Both sides of the argument had merit but what seemed clear was that Kassian was going to get a call from the NHL Player Safety Committee and a fine or suspension was coming, likely a suspension considering his history of having been suspended before.

On Friday, updates were that Kassian was going to get an in-person hearing by NHL Player Safety which meant he could be suspended longer than six games. It didn’t mean he would be, only that he could be.

The latest is that Kassian has waived his right to an in-person hearing and will accept his punishment over the phone.

Kassian Tried to Explain

After the game, he explained why he pulled the dangerous move. He 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.”

I’m not sure people are buying it. Most of the reaction after hearing the quote was that Kassian was full of it. NHL Player Safety will likely see it that way too. Looking at the video, his leg is clearly already free when he goes and aims it at Cernak.

Cernak had this to say after the game: “I think he was a little bit mad. I asked him what was wrong with him? Because that’s not the right play, what to do on the ice. He didn’t say nothing. So I don’t know. Lucky it wasn’t higher.”

It seems clear now that the Oilers should prepare for life without Kassian. If he’s going to get six or more games, that puts him out of action through the NHL Trade Deadline and possibly out longer than the injured Connor McDavid.

Related: Oilers Kassian Looking at Fine or Suspension for Kicking Player

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