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article imageOp-Ed: Zach Kassian hit on Oilers' Sam Gagner not intentional

By Marcus Hondro     Sep 23, 2013 in Sports
On Monday Zach Kassian has a hearing with the NHL disciplinary committee for his hit on Sam Gagner on Saturday night. The hit's result is not good for Gagner or the Edmonton Oilers but that doesn't mean the Vancouver Canucks forward should be suspended.
Gagner is out indefinitely with a broken jaw but there was no intent. Kassian moves in for the hit and as he does Gagner stops and pulls away. He could see a hit coming and he does what he could to avoid it, and does avoid it. However, in doing so he forced Kassian to adjust.
With a body no longer there Kassian tries to stop quickly to avoid banging into the boards. In doing so his body turns and the thrust of that turn flings his arms up and his stick hits Gagner with force.
”I was going to try to hit him and he stopped quick,” Kassian, who got a double minor on the play, explained. “I went with the shoulder and lost control and swung my stick and hit him in the face. The guy has a broken jaw. You never want to see that happen. But if you look at the replay, it is hard to purposely tomahawk and swing your stick and hit somebody in the face.”
NHL to meet with Kassian in person
Brendan Shanahan and the NHL's disciplinary crew called Kassian to an in-person meeting for Monday. Does that mean suspension? Kassian's teammate, Dale Weise, also has a hearing Monday, for his clip to the side of Taylor Hall's head, but that meeting is by phone. So Kassian does seem to have a greater likelihood of being suspended.
But without intent it's hard to believe he will get more than a game or perhaps two, though some pundits feel the in-person element means he'll get a lengthy suspension. Shanahan will say that the suspension will be for not controlling his stick. I'm not convinced he could have controlled his stick in this instance but the NHL doubtless believes it must give the Edmonton Oilers payback for the loss of an important player.
With Ryan Nugent-Hopkins recovering from off-season shoulder surgery and not expected back for a month, and now Gagner gone, the Oilers have their two top six centers on the sidelines. They will be a more competitive hockey team this year and should make the postseason - unless they get off to a poor start.
Without their top two centers that's exactly what may happen, but if it does - don't blame it on Zach Kassian.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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