Rishaug: Oilers can ill afford to lose another forward
Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian has waived his right to an in-person hearing for his kick on Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Erik Cernak and will speak with the league's Department of Player Safety in a phone hearing Friday afternoon.
Since he was offered an in-person hearing, Kassian could still face a suspension of six games or more for the action. According to TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie, the hearing will take place at 4pm ET.
The incident occurred after Kassian and Cernak got tangled up along the boards in the first period and fell to the ice, with Kassian delivering a kick to Cernak’s chest while lying underneath him. Despite leading with his skate blade and making obvious contact, Kassian was not penalized on the play.
Kassian called the kick on Cernak "reactionary" following his team's loss on Thursday.
"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," Kassian said. "I was laying there for a while, a couple of seconds, so I was just trying to pull my leg out...
"If I kicked him hard, I think he would have flew back or the ref would have called a penalty."
Cernak, meanwhile, said post-game he felt fortunate the kick landed in the chest and not higher on his body.
“I knew right away when he was on the ice he kicked me,” Cernak said post-game. “I think he was little bit mad. I asked him what was wrong with him, because that’s not a right play to do on the ice.
“He kicked me right in the chest, so luckily that wasn’t higher.”
Tampa Bay went on to win 3-1 for its ninth straight victory. Kassian finished without a point in 16:49 of ice time.
Kassian was suspended two games in mid-January after an altercation with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.
In 52 games this season, Kassian has 14 goals and 16 assists to go with 69 penalty minutes.