The Road Gets a Little Bumpier

Jason Strudwick
September 23 2013 09:33AM

Saturday night, in a preseason game against the Vancouver Canucks there was a stupid stick swinging incident involving the Canucks Zack Kassian. The result has really put a dent in the Oilers ability to have a strong start to this season.

Sam Gagner was hit by Kassian's stick in the mouth and by all reports he will miss a yet to be determined number of regular season games thanks to a broken jaw. The timing of this is very frustrating for any player.

All players work very hard in the summer to be fine tuned to get off to a good start. Hours in the gym and on the ice make sure they are ready to go. There is never a good time to be injured but I always felt that getting hurt in preseason was brutal.

The rest of the NHL continues right along and a player injured in exhibition is left behind. It is inevitable that Gagner will lose the fine edge he was worked on all summer. His level of conditioning will be challenged in two ways:

One, I would not expect a lot of training for him while the injury is acute. Two, his calorie and diet intake will be altered. After losing teeth and breaking your jaw would you feel like consuming the necessary calories to maintain your weight and energy levels?

I once took a puck to the mouth the morning after our team's rookie party (great times by the way). The dentist described the state of my mouth like this... "it looks like a grenade went off on your lips." Not what I wanted to hear, especially after a late night. A bunch of teeth were loose and I had to wear a brace across my top row of teeth. I lived on soup and protein shakes for a few weeks. Until I could eat whole foods again I was losing weight faster then Gregor was losing his hair at the age of eighteen.

This isn't good news for Gagner. In time he will get to the level he wants to be but it will not be right away. I know how competitive he is and the high expectations he puts on himself. The longer his down time, the longer it will take for him to get back to playing at his self imposed high level.

For the Oilers, the Gagner injury will leave them without their top two centers to start the season. Due to the Olympic break the Oilers have a full month of games in October. Wins will be harder to come by without both Gagner and Nuge. Take the top two centers off any team and that team will struggle.

As for Zach Kassian this was a very stupid play. I honestly don't understand how his stick could end up hitting Gagner in the face. I feel that a player is always responsible for his stick. Always. I do not think it was by accident that it flew up and hit Gagner in the face. It was on or near the ice and then flies up? Makes no sense to me.

The Consequences

Kassian will probably be suspended. If I am the Oilers why do I care about that? It doesn't bring back Gagner any sooner. One, two, 5, 10 games...doesn't make a difference. Even for the Canucks, at this stage in Kassian's development their team will move on without him.

I think the issue is with the lack of overall toughness in the Oilers lineup. Players like Kassian have no fear in playing the Oilers extra tough. Who outside of Mike Brown can stand up to a guy like Kassian or Andrew Alberts? Both these guys were running around Saturday night in Edmonton like there was no reason to be afraid! They're big guys, but nothing to lose sleep over unless a team like the Oilers doesn't have guys to match up to them with.

I know Edmonton got a lot of power plays against the Canucks Saturday. The plan is to score on those PP attempts frequently enough that the opponent will have to tone down the physical play. I get that, but at some point doesn't the team need to have the ability to stand up for itself?

When is enough enough? And when they get to that point who will be the guy to do it? I really like Brown as a player, he played very well saturday, but it is unfair to ask one undersized guy to fight the whole team's battles. I am not saying go out and bring in a Steve MacIntyre type player, just bring in someone who can play and step up when needed.

Last summer the Canadians signed Brandon Prust to a nice contract. He plays hard and fought most of the team's battles when needed. He did a good job but it is a lonely job if you are the only one doing it and you are undersized. Marc Bergevin saw the need to get him some help. This off season he brought in George Parros to take the pressure off Prust. I guarantee all the Habs are walking taller this season.

I don't care if Kassian gets suspended for one or ten games. I do care how the Oilers respond when they play him again. It is important for the team to not brush this over like nothing happened or it was an accident. The Oiler team can make a statement to not only the Canucks but all the teams in the league with some kind of a response.

Will someone stand up and say enough is enough?

5cf6b487166aced0cd781e41bfef915e
Jason hosts the Jason Strudwick show from 9pm to 12am, weeknights on the team 1260. He is an instructor at Mount Carmel Hockey Academy and loves working with the kids. Having played over 650 games in the NHL, Jason has some great stories and unique takes on life in the NHL. He loves Slurpees and Blizzards. Dislikes baggy clothes and close talkers.
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#201 Reach Advantage
September 23 2013, 06:20PM
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Romulus' Apotheosis wrote:

So, what is the fantasy here...

SMac is put on the ice against the Sedins.

If.. and this is a big if, he manages to catch up to one of them without the Oil getting scored on, he smashes one.

A Sedin is out for x amount of time.

SMac is suspended for x amount of time.

The Oilers don't improve having the Nucks lose a player. Probably lose the game. And now they are without their hulking beast.

You gain nothing other than violence and are back to square one.

You gain this very valuable thing:

Kassian doesn't do what he did again.

Also, other teams see what happened and they don't do what Kassian did.

Very valuable.

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#202 GVBlackhawk
September 23 2013, 06:23PM
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oilersplumber wrote:

I wonder how many of you out there are over 50 ? Doubt we would be having this discussion if most of you were and could have seen the Flyers, Bruins, even the Rangers and Canadiens of the day.......I wonder if that was why Slats had a few of his own. You think Wayne would have had the room he had with out them ? Doubtful.........aaah the wisdom that comes with age......

The game has changed a lot since the 1970's and 1980's. You can't get away with the stuff that they did back then.

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#203 The Real Scuba Steve
September 23 2013, 06:24PM
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Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty) wrote:

By unbecoming.....I mean weak.....your comments are normally well thought out and interesting.....I think you you know what I mean ...so ill let it go.....ill move on..

LOL This great entertainment!! you guys are a riot LOL

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#204 GVBlackhawk
September 23 2013, 06:25PM
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Reach Advantage wrote:

You gain this very valuable thing:

Kassian doesn't do what he did again.

Also, other teams see what happened and they don't do what Kassian did.

Very valuable.

That is far from the truth.

It is the same reason why the death penalty is not a deterrent for people to commit murders. People do dumb things in the heat of the moment and have no thought for the consequences.

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#205 oilersplumber
September 23 2013, 06:26PM
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GVBlackhawk wrote:

The game has changed a lot since the 1970's and 1980's. You can't get away with the stuff that they did back then.

Apparently they already have.

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#206 Shaun Doe
September 23 2013, 06:55PM
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Hey Struds, was hoping you might have some insight into my question. I was was wondering what sort of conversation, if any, Dave Gagner might have had with Kassian after the game. I know Sam's a big boy and not Canucks property as far as he is concerned professionally, but as a dad he must have been just a bit shook up/pissed by what happened to his boy. Have you ever experienced anything along these lines or heard of any thing like it? Thanks in advance

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#207 michael
September 23 2013, 06:57PM
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For those of you have not been paying attention these past 3 seasons should wake up and take a look at where we have finished in the standing due a passive do not hit me I won't hit you approach. Where has that got us?

Gregor uses the the doing the same thing over and over again is insanity. Well we have been like the dog that presents its belly anytime anything approaches bigger than a chihuaua. We have shown no grit. None. We have had our nose continuously shoved into the ice. And we have come back and asked them do it some more. We have had no spine.

3 previous coach's,note the word previous, 1 GM and a plethora of NHL wannabe's have come and gone. And still we had our show ran for us. Enough is enough. When do we stand up for ourselves. I am sorry to all the pacifists out there like Romulus. But I have been paying attention and for the past 3 years we have been getting the snot kicked out out of us regularly. I am sick of it. The addition of Smack by MacT signals a change in that he understands the situation. He bided his time. Waited to see who would step up. Saw that Mike Brown was in over his head. He made a choice to give Eakins a tool that imo nullifys a lot of the bs that teams have been handing us for the past 3 years.

You add Eager,Brown and Smack.And now you have a 4 th line that can deliver the goods and the brawn on a regular basis. You do not need use Smack every game but sure as cow turd you use him to nullify pukes like ORR and Kassian.

Its time this team pushes back. Not just on the scoreboard. You beat a team mentaly before you beat them physicaly. Smack puts doubt and fear into the minds of the opponent. A little fear goes along way to winning.

book it

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#208 Reach Advantage
September 23 2013, 07:03PM
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2004Z06 wrote:

Hey at least it may be a stop gap until a Colton Orr type of player comes available.

As for Kassian's comment. He is right, Macyntire's skating ability should be the furthest thing from his mind. Keeping that last tooth in his head however will be.

The only way this works is if Mac goes over the boards, grabs Kassian and pounds the crap out of him regardless of whether Kassian wants to go or not.

Take the instigator penalty, take the suspension. The rest of the league then knows that while it may not happen again, it CAN happen again. You only have to push the button once before people realize that you will if need be.

There is your nuclear deterrent.

Agree

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#209 Thumby
September 23 2013, 07:09PM
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MessyEH! wrote:

You want a deterent. Gagner should get up and two hand crank Kassian in the throat. Yeah Gagner gets suspended. He'd be off injured anyway. But now he gets space. Now he gets left alone.

Or Eakins tells one of the tryouts to run the goalie in the next shift. "Chicken wing elbow as you cross the crease. "

Having a goon on the bench isn't a deterrent, having a couple players who will end your career is.

Did anyone see some of this in Nurse's game? I did...why oh why wasn't he drafted 4 years ago...

;D

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#210 Todd
September 23 2013, 07:25PM
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Reach Advantage wrote:

You gain this very valuable thing:

Kassian doesn't do what he did again.

Also, other teams see what happened and they don't do what Kassian did.

Very valuable.

I agree with you. If someone does something crazy it forever alters the game. The fact that John Scott was willing to jump a 5'9" elite scorer proves his head isn't on straight. He is crazy, unpredictable and might just snap.

This is how enforcers did it in the 80s. If any goal scorer in the league was mouthy enough, cheap enough and asked for it, he might be killed by the toughest guy in the league.

Now guys like Smac just fight pre-arranged honor fights against the other guys goon. This is pointless. I hope hope Smac is told to pull a John Scott. If every single guy on the other team knows that if he steps out of line or flaps his mouth off too much ala Kessle he might get killed (literally, dead), that would change things more than some staged nuclear deterrant fight.

Also semi related, I can't stop laughing at some of the people in these comments who think they know more about hockey than Struds. I played major junior, and I still play beer league like the rest of us know it alls. It just kills me when people think they know more than a guy who played 14 years in the show. Unreal.... Some peoples kids.

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#211 Todd
September 23 2013, 07:29PM
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Reach Advantage wrote:

Agree

^^ this X10

Smac does something crazy, kills someone. Don't worry about instigator or suspension. Then the rest of the year you just say "do you want what Kassian got". That is a nuclear deterrent IMO. Not staged honorable "wanna go" Smac VS some other nuclear heavy fight.

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#213 michael
September 23 2013, 08:00PM
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Wife and I watched the Battle of the Blades season preview last night. Your in tough Studs. I would rather fight Smack than try to compete against those other 7 teams.

What Charity are competing for Struds?

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#214 Shaun Doe
September 23 2013, 08:08PM
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@Jason Strudwick

Fair enough, I assumed that would be the answer. I just wonder if he gave him a bit of the hairy eye balls or just a simple, "use your head". But he's an employee first, dad second when he's on the clock.

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#215 Randall Shermer
September 23 2013, 08:57PM
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The Oilers need to go out and get one or more of the best enforcers in the league, even if they have to give up a little skill to get him. Target the enforcers on the top 6 winning teams of last years' playoffs: Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Detroit, and Ottawa.

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#216 GVBlackhawk
September 23 2013, 10:51PM
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Randall Shermer wrote:

The Oilers need to go out and get one or more of the best enforcers in the league, even if they have to give up a little skill to get him. Target the enforcers on the top 6 winning teams of last years' playoffs: Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, San Jose, Detroit, and Ottawa.

I see what you did there.

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#217 Gaz
September 23 2013, 11:34PM
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@DSF

Oh dear.

Weiss didn't 'lay a beating' on Brown. Watch it again. Brown started hammering so Weiss wrestled him to the ground. That's fine, and a smart play by Weiss for sure. Please don't alter what happened to fit your narrative.

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#218 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
September 23 2013, 11:45PM
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@Shaun Doe

Dave Gagner has nothing to do with the Canucks. He doesn't work for them. Gagner sr. works for the Orr management group.

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#219 MessyEH!
September 24 2013, 03:21AM
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Now if SMac is aloud to do this the next time an Oilers star is cheap shooted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mGAdHcuJOkQ&feature=youtube_gdata_player

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#220 The Oilers Shot Clock
September 24 2013, 09:13AM
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The deterrent needs to come from the league. Simple as that. Suspensions obviously dont work as we have had decades on top of decades of hockey to prove it.The same can be said of Goons.The respect between players is near non existent and it stems from a lot of different reasons. I read Zonas article of an eye for an eye and while I disagree with the concept, I do agree with the idea. The league needs to punish more effectively. Id like to see suspensions combined with draft picks awarded to the victimized team. The severity could dictate the quality of pick,and ofcourse it would only apply to repeat offenders or extremely brazen acts of violence. Suspensions alone are not enough because there's a pretty good chance that the suspended player will hardly be missed and there's also a pretty good bet that the player injured is the better player between the two. Its almost not in a teams best interest to discourage it. Taking away a 3rd round pick would sting, and teams would start holding their own guys accountable.....Rant over,maybe Im just upset it came to hiring MacIntyre.

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#221 Czar
September 24 2013, 09:18AM
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@MessyEH!

This would be perfectly acceptable for any Canuck or Flames game. Thanks for the link.

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#222 MessyEH!
September 24 2013, 09:25AM
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@Czar

That's a beast of a nuclear deterent. You hurt our skill, and we release a smack down on your goalie. Someone, from there team will respond and they get leveled.

RELEASE THE SMACKEN.

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#223 Czar
September 24 2013, 09:32AM
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@MessyEH!

You could see the fear in the eyes of the kids on the bench, I'm not fvcking going out there after that! Awesome!!

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#224 thebiggestmanintheworld
September 24 2013, 10:33AM
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This is how intimidation is supposed to work in the NHL...

Weise almost elbows Hall in the melon, then Brown needs to take a run at Canuck X.

Kassian swings his stick at Gagner's face, SMac just blindsides Canuck X.

Eventually, Canuck X will go to Weiss and Kassian and tell them to start playing hockey because they're tired of being run themselves.

Does this make sense?

Nobody needs to bring a shiv and gut somebody on the ice.

Like the brush back pitch, eventually the skill guys get tired of playing like this and straighten their own teams out.

It might take a game or two, but respect is eventually born out of intense rivalries such as these.

Take a few penalties and just let the other team know you'll run with them if that how they want to play...

Unfortunately, the Oilers are no where close to compete like that....

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#225 Rama Lama
September 24 2013, 11:07AM
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I wonder why Gretzky always wanted two or three tough guys on his team?? It was'nt so they could manage Gretzky's fashion requirements.

For all those people who think a goon plays no part........ask the greatest player in the world how he feels about this......it's all there on the record.

Only a fool goes into a battle unarmed and expects to win the war.

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#226 Wax Man Riley
September 24 2013, 12:25PM
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Shaun Doe wrote:

Fair enough, I assumed that would be the answer. I just wonder if he gave him a bit of the hairy eye balls or just a simple, "use your head". But he's an employee first, dad second when he's on the clock.

If I remember correctly, Dave Gagner is no longer with the Canucks organization. I will look

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#227 Wax Man Riley
September 24 2013, 12:29PM
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Wax Man Riley wrote:

If I remember correctly, Dave Gagner is no longer with the Canucks organization. I will look

http://forum.canucks.com/topic/350605-report-dave-gagner-leaves-canucks-to-work-with-orr-hockey-group/

Dave Gagner leaves the Canucks organization to work with Orr Hockey

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