Many people wished Luke Gazdic or any Edmonton Oiler for that matter, had exacted some revenge on Canuck forward Zack Kassian Tuesday night.  I was one of them.


Early in the season, Kassian recklessly and maybe even intentionally flung his stick around after missing a hit on Sam Gagner and hit him square in the face, shattering Ganger’s jaw. It’s hard to know if the intent was there but it was an incredibly dumb play regardless.

Kassian was asked if he was worried about pay back from the Oilers “Obviously I’m not too worried about someone coming after me. I have no problem standing up for myself. If they want to get some type of revenge, the door is open. Go ahead.”

When the Oilers played in Vancouver in December, I don’t recall much but I have to assume Gazdic asked him to fight if given the chance to match up with him early in the game. Nothing unfolded until late and at the end of the game Kassian was seen pointing at his jaw area, taunting the Oilers bench and specifically Gagner.

Clearly this infuriated fans and you would have to think the guys on the team.


On Tuesday night with the season lost for the Oilers, many people including myself on the Jason Gregor show discussed and hoped that Kassian may find himself with a dance partner whether he liked it or not.

It’s one thing for Kassian to do something accidently, it’s another to rub it in, and show no remorse. Maybe there were other things said on the ice that we don’t know of but from where I sit now, that’s what happened.

As it turns out Kassian didn’t have to pay the piper on Tuesday and he eventually scored the game winner. Fans and media were irate while players and coaches didn’t think there was anything more that could have been done in today’s game.


As the game crept into the second period, I was wondering why Gazdic hadn`t found Kassian. The answer early in the contest was Eakins never had Gazdic out there with him. That told me it wasn`t a priority for the coach.

As the game went on they came together on a couple of occasions and it was clear Kassian was not going to drop his gloves. I like many I`m sure, yelled out loud while watching the game “just drop your mitts, make him fight!!”

I was disappointed it didn’t unfold and a little perplexed as to why it didn’t until I really sat back and thought about times in my career I was in a similar situations. So much can go on behind the scenes when you are actually playing.

For one, time has passed, maybe inside that room it’s not that big of a deal?

Secondly, retaliation especially ones that are pre meditated, really do have to be a legitimate concern. I can`t argue with the coach and players post-game suggestions. Four months had gone by.


Twice in my career, I can recall being in the exact same shoes as Gazdic. Several months had gone by and both times I accomplished no more than him seeking revenge, likely for similar reasons.

The closest I ever got to being told to fight in my entire career, was in my 11th NHL game as a twenty year old versus the Toronto Maple Leafs. The season before Darcy Tucker had taken a good run at teammate Sergei Gonchar and injured him.

As I got dressed in my stall before the game, my coach Bruce Cassidy sat down beside me and said “I don’t know if you know what happened last year with Tucker and Gonchar but you could really make a name for yourself with your teammates tonight, you know what I mean?” I did know what happened before and I knew exactly what he meant.

Of course my first shift, I lined up right beside him. I asked him to go and he laughed at me. Some twenty year old pretending he’s tough, trying to make a name for himself was comical for a veteran like Tucker.

I crossed checked and grabbed him immediately off the draw and was sent to the box. I’m pretty sure they scored on the power play but in my head I thought no big deal, I did what my coach had asked of me and my teammates saw I tried.

After my second minor penalty on him in the same game, I gave up. I could have jumped him I guess but by now it was 6 months after the incident and quite frankly, I looked like an idiot, not him.

I even felt like my own teammates thought I was a moron for taking numerous penalties when he clearly wasn`t going to oblige me.


It was my first game playing Alexander Svitov. For those that aren’t aware of our history, he spit on me at the World Junior tournament the year before and I swore up and down publicly in the media I would get revenge.

Well here it was, right in front of my face. He was playing for Tampa Bay. I challenged him early in the game and he declined. I found him in the third period when we were up 4-0 and punched him again, challenging him but he didn`t want to drop his gloves. I finally just dropped mine before I was grabbed from behind by Chris Dingman and a small melee developed.

It was not pay back in my mind and the next time I got out there, I told myself I wasn`t asking any questions. I got back to the bench and my coach Bruce Cassidy leaned into my ear and said “Hey I know what happened but right now is not the time; you have to put personal stuff aside.”

I didn`t know why it wasn`t the right time, it seemed like the perfect time. Up 4-0, what’s not to like?

My next shift Mike Grier on the faceoff said “Suds, I got you if you want to get after it here”

I regretfully said “Nah coach won`t let me.”

I never played another game against him.

If I was older, I likely wouldn’t have listened because I`ve never felt so disrespected in my life but the coach controlled my ice time. I was trying to cement myself in the league, not find myself in his doghouse or back in the minors.


Most people in Edmonton including myself, want this team to push back and play with more fire. We looked to this game as the perfect opportunity for the Oilers to send a message to Kassian and to the rest of the league.

Gazdic will shoulder much of the blame for not taking it a step further on Tuesday but jumping someone is way easier said than done, especially when it’s not in the heat of the moment.

I know Gazdic knows his role, I know he wants to protect his teammates and no one has a tougher job in hockey than guys like him. Could he of just dropped his gloves and at the very least put Kassian in a tougher spot to say no without throwing a punch?

Yeah probably but with the Hartley fine and Shawn Thornton incidents as recent as they were, it`s hard not to think something was stopping him from going that far.

I would have loved to see him give Kassian absolutely no choice but when really reflecting on a game like Tuesday and considering all the factors there may have been, Gazdic was in a very tough spot.

He’s still the last guy this fan base needs to be worried about protecting his teammates.

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    My biggest problem with this whole debacle is Dallas Eakins. I’ve tried to keep an open mind about him, until now. He says the retribution isn’t worth taking a bad penalty and losing the game. GOOD CALL! We had no retribution and the guy that should’ve been knocked out of the game scores the game winner. We’re in last place in the conference. The rest of the season is about setting a tone. He said at the start of this year this team will be a tough team to play against. We’re going to play hard blah blah blah! And like many have said on here before, if Kassian isn’t willing to go then run Loungo, or Run a Sedin. Make him want to go in otherways. We don’t make teams pay with our power play. I’m fed up with this team. I’ve completely stopped watching games. The best thing that can happen to this team is HALL asking for a trade, which I assume will happen soon enough. Their wasting the primes of their career on this pathetic team right now

    • Jordan McNugent-Hallkins

      I agree with this, for the most part. Eakins needs to let these guys deal with this stuff, on the ice. It’s ironic, considering how Eakins played the game, is his day. What I disagree with is that Tort’s would send Sestito over the boards to deal with anyone running a Sedin, or Lou – not Kassian. Tort’s knows how to run that aspect of the game. Not convinced Eakins does…

  • Brian Sutherby

    I don’t think revenge necessarily needs to be a fight. At least make sure the guy has a miserable night. Especially in your own barn. What really kills me is that no one (aside from Gazdic late) even took a run at Kassian, or played him the least bit physically. He walked around untouched out there and scored the game winner. All that happened there was the Oil proving to the rest of the league that they can do whatever they want, with no response.

  • D-Unit

    I would have liked to see Gagner get him with a cross-check to the face.
    Don’t give Kassian a chance to defend himself with a fight.
    Big deal, Sam gets a big suspension, should have made him feel better about himself, and put everyone on notice that he won’t take cheap stuff. The one thing I liked about Gagner was he was willing to fight a time or 2 a year.
    I might be cold blooded, but I wouldn’t lose sleep over costing Kassian a career.

  • Big Cap

    Once again our Big Mouth, Blowhard, Know it All, Coach cant/won’t deliver on what he promised.

    Its alot easier to call out and mock Lars Eller than Kassian.

    Eakins, why don’t you tell us again Yak isn’t playing proper D and that he’ll be sitting again to learn the process.

    Eakins is a JOKE!

  • pkam

    Gazdic should practice two special skill. 1st, swing the stick after missing a hit. 2nd, run the goalie real hard, harder than the Lucic hit on Miller. We should bring big Mac up to help.

    Our next visit to Vancouver, high stick the Sedins or Kesler, hopefully both, one by Gazdic and the other by big Mac. It not only pay back what we got from them, it helps the chance of Team Canada as well.

    Then we will pay them the interest in the last game vs the Canucks, send big Mac out to play against the Kassian line and run Luongo, hopefully Kassian is stupid enough to challenge big Mac. And I will be waiting impatiently for Torts post game interview.

  • oildawg99

    Bottom line…..

    Kassian came into our building didn’t get a whiff of physicality against him
    (im not taking about replaying the Bertuzzi / Moore incident), just hit him, make it difficult for him, make him and other riff raft in the league understand that its not easy goings after taking out one of our guys.

    Dam we treated Gretz to the Esa Tikkanen show every go round. We treated Gretz to a worse time that Kassian and Gretz was over here! Ya Ya i know different motivations for shadowing Gretz….but the idea that if you came into this building either skilled or a goon, you were going to have a rough night is gone and nowhere to be found.

    Im not condoning cheap hockey or retaliatory hockey….just good physical, smash mouth, “I’m gonna make the next 60 mins of your life a living hell” type hockey….


    TO TOP IT OFF THE F#&KER scores the winning goal…..

    Eakins comments after were a JOKE. Why does asking for more physicality by the press and the NATION equate to we have to be cheap about it!? Just make his life hell and make him feel physical hockey for the time he’s on the ice!!! Make him regret his cheap hit on Gags and hopping onto the Charter into Edmonton!

    • Randaman

      Not that I am defending Eakins but you do have to consider the fact that Eakins doesn’t have a Sestito on his bench or in the system for that matter. Where the f$&k is Big Mac. This is on management and their small player mentality isn’t it?

  • Rob...

    What prevented Gazdic from telling Kassian: ‘Look, I’m going to challenge you tonight, and if you don’t drop the gloves first, I’m going to skate away. The next time I’m on the ice, I’m going to grab the most skilled player you’ve got on the ice at the time and I’m going to do my best to imagine that he’s you.’?

    • camdog

      Eakins prevented Gazdic from doing this by not playing him. At the end of the first I checked Gazdic’s time on ice and it was 1.29 Gazdic would have needed at minimum double the minutes to allow him to assert himself. The reality is the coach didn’t want Gazdic to do anything.

  • Big Cap

    This team lacks in every department. I’ve been waiting since Gator left for someone to lead this team with a wolf pack mentality. Great going management.

  • oilerjed

    @ Brian Sutherby
    Whats your take, from a guy in the dressing room. How is a player that demands a trade regarded in the dressing room?

    I can only hope tha the players on the Oilers arent the little b*&tches that are on this site. This person should demand a trade, that person should be calling his agent. With that kind of attitude I doubt they ever make the NHL. Pride is a massive motivator, even if we are not seeing so much of it this year. Contract is signed, obligations made. Who would want a player that so easily bails on a team. Is there anyway you trust that he is there for the team?

  • Although he doesn’t strike me as a man who spends much time on self reflection young Zack is creating quite the legacy for himself. Generally speaking a man of proper internal wiring is born with both conscience and integrity.
    He is kinda scribbled up this Zack. Maybe he was dropped as an infant or something.

  • oildawg99

    Hi Suds, great Tucker story. Would have loved to see a few more guys get their licks in on Darcy back in the day.

    I definitely would have liked to have seen Kassian receive a few knuckle sandwichs too. But these days, I struggle with whether giving Gazdic marching orders to get Kassian is the right thing to do.

    I used to idolize guys like Bob Probert back in the day and it deeply saddens me to see these enforcers go on to abuse substances, pain killers and some dying prematurely. For me, it’s one thing to say guys like Gazdic has a job to do, it’s quite another to order him to go fight this guy and go do it now. I just think Gazdic needs more control of that situation given the potential costs to him down the road.

      • The cost to Sam is not lost on me. His two worst seasons are the two where he started the year injured, not to mention the physical price.

        The way I see it, there is risk in playing this game. Every player accepts that by lacing up. There’s also a specific and elevated risk in the enforcer’s role. I would want to make sure that each enforcer understands the risks and that we’re not pushing them to take on more risk than they are willing to accept. But then there is a discussion that if the enforcer is not doing his job, then he’s out of the lineup. Very complicated topic.

    • Visually McDavid

      This is beautifully said and I couldn’t agree with you more. Every fight that Gazdic is in could have long term implications for his health and I hope that the decision to fight someone is left up to him.

      Gazdic is obviously tough (this is a guy that fought Lucic FFS) and I have no doubt that he knows his role and would back up his teammates in a second no questions asked. At the same time if Eakins asked him not to go after Kassian then he has to listen, his spot on the roster is not guaranteed.

      Besides if Kassian was truly laughing at Gags’ injury then the entire team was disrespected and it isn’t up to just one guy to respond.

  • fasteddy

    I feel like everyone keeps missing the number one problem with our rebuild; we didn’t have veterans that could play important minutes while the young guys work their way in. And the truth is we likely wouldn’t have drafted so high if we did. Its a catch 22…..going off on K-Lowe is ridiculous in my opinion. He admitted a long time ago he made a mistake after the 2006 run trying to keep things together rather than re-tooling. That was a mistake with the fans and remaining players in mind. We would have been screaming from the rafters if he started unloading some of those guys at the time. The idea to acquire high end talent through the draft is, in my opinion, better than middling along for years on end like a Nashville, etc. Unfortunately there are tremendous pains that come along with it. Ill take it though to see the talent we have now over watching Horcoff be our number one option for the power play. (I liked Horcoff, but for different reasons than being our trigger man)

  • oildawg99

    The most frustrating part is this could have been a real team building moment for this group. They didn’t need to jump Kassian. they simply needed to show some push back physically. It would have said a lot if some of our skill guys came out with a chip on their shoulder. I am so tired of all the sh!t eating grins on the faces of the opposition here as they come in and its like a game of shinny for them.

    Kassian won’t fight? Start taking some hard runs at their skill players and he will need to come to the defence of his own teammates. Gazdic should take a hard run at Luongo or Sedin and force Kassian to do something about it. And I am not talking about suspend-able offences, get in Lou’s crease bump him, chirp him, grab Sedin after the whistle and push him around.

    the saddest part is our ego maniac of a coach will never realize this as he was “playing to win”. Hows that working out for ya Eakins? Your team is the easiest to play against in the league, the other team should just ditch their shoulder pads when they play against the oil and Eakins ” super competitive team”

      • oildawg99

        Probably, because they are too STUPID to call up MACINTYRE, and, even if they did, he would not be allowed to do his job like he did in his last regular seaon Oiler game agaist the wild and Sraubitz! Google MacIntyre vs Staubitz!!! BEAUTFUL!!!!!!!!

        • oildawg99

          forgot about this , and I loved it . Now that is sending a message. Same thing though with cooke taking a run a yakapov and nobody did anything. If someone would have the other team wouldn’t have scored

        • TeddyTurnbuckle

          Seen it, thought a light had gone on then they didn’t bother to bring him back. I’m totally okay if the 4th line enforcer does some you… enforcing. Gazdic taking a two minute penalty for instigating is something I’d prefer over him dumping it at the red line for 90 seconds a game.

      • Rob...

        Sarcasm my friend……….we all know that the Oilers do not like using enforcers.

        There will come a day when enough is enough and when either Hall, Ebs, or RNH get the the same treatment as Gagner received…….Big Mac will finally be called to play.

        No team is scared of us, that much is obvious but Gazdic has done his part. He is NOT the problem here.

        • Old Retired Guy (A.K.A. Die-Nasty)

          Mack Strong wrote:
          When has Gags ever been our enforcer?

          Or even an enforcer at all?

          Sarcasm my friend……….we all know that the Oilers do not like using enforcers.

          There will come a day when enough is enough and when either Hall, Ebs, or RNH get the the same treatment as Gagner received…….Big Mac will finally be called to play.

          No team is scared of us, that much is obvious but Gazdic has done his part. He is NOT the problem here.

          Nope ,need way more grit in this line-up.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    it just showed the coach is a wimp and he’s trying to deal with problems so beyond his scope that finding some respect for the team is last on his list of concerns.

    “yes, disrespect us. break our jaws. mock us. we are so f’d with our heads cut off trying to resemble a hockey team that we can’t stick up for ourselves or manage all facets of the hockey game. i.e. creating competitive space for ourselves by smashing a dufus gorilla.”


    even garbage Calgary dealt with it in a hilarious manner.

    Eakins is a dong wizard. get him out.

    i mean, when we all look back – none of these situations with Kassian matter in the end i suppose. but why stop there when we can apply that logic to the game of hockey also and just stop watching? are we really watching hockey anyhow? or just a group of boys that pretend to play NHL hockey (WITH REAL PAY! meow)? woof. dont melt your brain on that one.

  • oildawg99

    I agree that the time for retribution was 5 seconds after the incident in the heat of the moment, not 3 months and 3 games later. I posted a similar comment last week and someone responded that at the time there was concern that it was an accident. Crap, he broke the guy’s jaw with his stick – go for it. We see fights after clean hits so that excuse doesn’t hold water although the entire Oiler bench was probably thinking “I’m not going after him because I think it was accidental”. Admit it, the Oilers need a few players that play with an edge and score 10-20 goals a year like Kassian .

  • Mike Modano's Dog

    I really appreciate you telling us about what happened in the World Juniors. I have to say I watched that happen live…and couldn’t believe the cowardice of Alexander ‘Spitov’. Anyone could plainly see how incensed you were. I remember how you restrained yourself for the team’s benefit…and the guys calling the game really respected you for that. That wasn’t the time, and you did the right thing for the whole country.

    P.S. I never got to say thank you for that…so thank you.

    Now that said, I couldn’t WAIT to see you get your hands on that cowardly little puke later!
    I always wondered why that hadn’t happen yet. (Any chance of your signing in the KHL to play one game against Kazan Ak-Bars?) 😉

    Anyway, once again it is so cool to find out the real reason this stuff happens behind the bench so that we, as fans, can see ourselves!

    I actually use ‘Alexander Spitov’ as my name on your Streakcred contest site, out of respect for what you did that tournament! I’ve seen a lot of WJC games and I’ve never seen a more selfless act in all my years than that shown by you there. I hope you can take some solace in the fact that what you did says more about you than any retribution could ever have!

  • oildawg99

    If I was the captain I would have got everyone to throw in 100$ and the guy that threw the biggest clean check on kassian takes the pot.

    Everyone that didn’t register a hit on kassian has to donate another 100$ to charity

  • TeddyTurnbuckle

    Marty McSorley used to tell the other team to send out their tough guy and fight him or he would hurt someone. Direct quote from him on the panel.

  • Bucknuck

    Great Article! It’s absolutely brilliant having ex-players who actually know what they are talking about doing some writing here. Thanks for the insight.

    I watched the interview with Ference after the game and he laid it out for the reporters pretty clearly I figured. Eakins did a good job too.

    Why is it that the Canucks always seem to have dirty players on their team? Players that don’t back it up (usually). Kesler, Cooke, Kassian, and Burrows just to name a few. I look forward to seeing them miss the playoffs next year (I hope).

    • Rob...

      Right… because there are so many teams in the NHL that rise to the top of the standings by always taking the high road and turning the other cheek. Obviously everyone calling for any form of retaliation is a mouth-breathing idiot who couldn’t have possibly thought about what they were suggesting and any of the potential ramifications.

  • Bucknuck

    FACT – all of the OILERS -including Gazdic- are scared to fight Kassian- look at the severe beating he gave EAGER last year! After that there is SEStitO, Weise, Bieksa, Alberts, Lain, Kesler and Burrows to worry about! Leaving Kassian and the Canucks alone is a GREAT IDEA – safe business practice – Hall, Ebs, RNH or a number of other little fairies could get hurt- real,real BAD!!!!!

    • Rob...

      Valid point, these guys could be coming at you over the boards relentlessly, but on the other hand Vancouver cannot and will not ever win the cup with all these no talent Loogans in the line up.Teams dont even dress these type of player in the playoff.s Good Luck.

  • Rob...

    If there was a rating for team toughness the current Oilers team would have the record for the lowest score in the history of the league. It sickens me to say it but it is actually embarrassing to be an Oiler fan right now. Lowe should also be embarrassed. It’s a clown college in Edmonton right now with all the bad publicity. Be a man and step down Lowe. You failed miserably and now you are being publicly embarrassed on a daily basis. It shows you how blindly arrogant he must be to not have quit already.

  • Death Metal Nightmare

    This should have been settled in Vancouver. Ask him to go, if so, great, if not force him into it by playing the body hard on one of Kassian’s linemates. Kassian doesn’t do anything because he doesn’t have to. That said, he was still running his mouth in Edmonton this week, to go after him wouldn’t be premeditated in my opinion when he is still making waves.

    He runs his mouth and taunts Gagner (and the rest of the team) because he knows he won’t have to pay the piper. It’s like a bully in the school yard, until someone stands up to him he will operate with impunity. He isn’t nearly as impactful against gritty, hard-nosed teams.

    Our skill guys need to earn respect and some have. Hall did with his brutal fight a couple years ago when he dropped the mitts ( and hurt himself ) with Dorsett?and when he kneed Clutterbuck. Opponents know that if they run him they might feel a bit of pain themselves. He seems to have more room out there this year( maybe it’s just me)

    Messier was similar back in the day, guys knew fit hey tried to take him hard into the boards or corner that they would be eating an elbow without delay.