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Kassian suspended two games by the NHL for role in Tkachuk incident

The National Hockey League Department of Player Safety has come down on @Edmonton Oilers F Zack Kassian for his role in a Saturday incident with @Calgary Flames F Matthew Tkachuk.

Kassian has been suspended for two games under Rule 46.2 (Aggressor), the league said in a statement Monday evening.

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The incident happened with just under two minutes left in the second period. For the second time that night, Tkachuk had caught Kassian with a big, questionable hit near the boards.

Kassian retaliated by grabbing Tkachuk and tried to initiate a fight. Tkachuk, who declined the invitation, proceeded to get ragdolled as Kassian threw upwards of 10 punches on the Flames forward. Kassian was assessed a 10-minute misconduct and a double-minor on the play, while Tkachuk did not receive a penalty.

Tkachuk did not hear from the Department of Player Safety on the matter.

Rule 46.2, which Kassian was suspended under, states “the aggressor in an altercation shall be the play who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant.”

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“It is important to note that at no point does Tkachuk have an opportunity to square up, drop his gloves, or do anything other than attempt to protect himself from the punches thrown,” the league said in a video ruling posted on their website. “Kassian grabs Tkachuk by the collar and begins throwing punches pulling him to the ice on multiple occasions and not stopping until the official separate the two.

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“Kassian acknowledges he was seeking retribution for this hit, and previous hits thrown during the game. While he acknowledges frustration, players are not excused from grossly violating league rules in retribution, or retaliation for hits thrown against them, legal or otherwise.”

Kassian will miss games against the @Nashville Predators Tuesday night and a Saturday matchup against the Arizona Coyotes.

The first game back for Kassian will be on Jan. 29 when the Edmonton Oilers take on the Calgary Flames.

On Twitter: @zjlaing