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Photo Credit: Tom Kostiuk

Monday Mailbag – Expectations for the next BOA

Would you look at that? Another week is in the books and that means we’re seven days closer to the start of a new season, and for that I’m grateful. This week, we look at the Kassian/Tkachuk shenanigans, Caleb Jones’ contract, the All-Star break, and a whole lot more. If you have a question for next week, and I’m always looking for some, you can always email me or hit me up on Twitter. From there I will slot you in as quickly as possible. Until then, enjoy the free learning.

1) Mike E. asks – I don’t like Tkachuk and the way he plays. Lots has been said by many. I agree with almost all of it. My question is why is Kassian being applauded for trying to punch out a guy who didn’t want to fight, and taking penalties that lost the game, and two games suspended? I know the line that players bring their own justice or dish out old-time justice or that Tkachuk needs to man up and take his medicine. But given the whole Me Too issue, and the current rule structure of the NHL – is it not time for players to change? Isn’t all this talk just dating the players talking like that? Yes, take the body physically to the other team. Check hard. Score more. Win the game. Punish that way. All this talk about old-time justice sounds dated and a bit crass given our culture now. When the goal is the Stanley cup should you be applauded at doing things that end up being a detriment to that goal? It seems there are better ways to punish such a player and not punish your team at the same time.

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Jason Gregor:

I think it is unfair to try to compare the “MeToo” movement to the NHL. Those women were in situations where their lives were completely altered and they were humiliated and sexually assaulted. They didn’t run around and cheap shot the men prior and then have to suffer the consequences. We should not compare real life situations to the game of hockey.

Kassian is applauded for standing up for himself. At some point in life it is important to do that, rather than hope others will protect you. I haven’t seen many say Kassian is a hero, just that they understand why he was mad. Hockey is a fast-paced, physical game. Emotions will boil over. It was a regular season game. He didn’t lose the Stanley Cup in January due to a double minor penalty. I’d much rather a player stand up for themselves than expect another teammate to do it.

Robin Brownlee:

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You’re bringing Me Too onto the ice for a play that takes place in the heat of the game? No. Hindsight is a wonderful thing and it certainly worked out that Kassian reacting the way he did ended up in Calgary getting the winner on the PP. Easy to say he shouldn’t have done it when you haven’t just been blown up twice by a guy taking runs out you. Play was made in the heat of battle. Looking at it from afar and pontificating about right and wrong is easy.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I do agree that the situation is old school and a little barbaric but every sport is like that at times. Players have adapted and there is way less fighting then there’s ever been in the NHL but sometimes, situations boil over. While Kassian’s penalty may have played a part in the Oilers losing that game, I think in the long run it could be a positive. This could be a moment that really brings the team closer together. You don’t want Kassian jumping someone on the other team every game and always taking bad penalties, but once in a while, it’s good to let the other team know you won’t be messed with.

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Baggedmilk:

I’ve gotta be honest, not sure how the Kassian/Tkachuk thing has anything to do with the Me Too movement. Kassian had enough of Tkachuk’s headhunting that was going unpenalized and overreacted.

Jan 11, 2020; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Calgary Flames left wing Milan Lucic (17) and Edmonton Oilers right wing Zack Kassian (44) exchanges words during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Calgary Flames won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

2) Andrew asks – After hearing Kassian’s interview and his comments about speaking with George Parros about what’s considered legal from a hitting perspective, are you concerned that Kassian will be penalized more harshly because of the type of player he is?

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Jason Gregor:

I’m not. I asked Darnell Nurse if he felt he had to be better behaved after his three-game suspension a few years ago. He said he hasn’t noticed any difference. I think Kassian said what he said so that if he does deliver a similar hit, he won’t be suspended. I think that was his strategy. I also don’t think he is going to go headhunting all the time. He will wait for the right opportunity, rather than just run around like a crazed man looking for revenge on his first shift. Players who are physical and aggressive like Kassian have always and will always be scrutinized more because of how they play. I doubt this hit changed that.

Robin Brownlee:

Players with a history of crossing the line always are scrutinized more closely, as it should be.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Yes. I’m worried that he’s going to lay out a really bad hit on January 29th against the Flames and will be suspended for it. Tkachuk got away with it but the DOPS is very inconsistent and Kassian could now be considered a repeat offender. He needs to be careful because the league will be watching him very closely.

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Baggedmilk:

I’m more concerned that there is a complete lack of consistency in terms of what counts as a penalty/suspension these days. Kassian will be fine, but the league keeps shooting itself in the foot.

3) Clay asks – What are you expecting from the next Battle of Alberta? Do you think the game will live up to the hype or will the expectations be set too high that something crazy will happen?

Jason Gregor:

Rarely do games now live up to the hype. The entire NHL will be watching, which is great. Emotional games are better for the league, plus with the Pacific division being so tight the game matters a lot. I think it will be an intense game, but I’d be surprised if we saw numerous fights. I don’t understand why George Parros and the NHL announced he would be in attendance. Just show up, don’t make a public spectacle about him going. The irony is the NHL promotes some Wednesday games as “Rivalry Night.” They want rivalries, but only if they aren’t too emotional. Fail.

Robin Brownlee:

Hoping for a fast-paced, intense game. Something crazy? The teams have already been warned that’s not going to fly. These games seldom live up to the pre-game build-up.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I think it will. It’s clear that there is some real hatred between these two sides and after a couple of weeks away from hockey, the Oilers should be very fired up for that game.

Baggedmilk:

All I really care about is the two points and would be completely cool with the idea of the Oilers ignoring Tkachuk and his nonsense entirely.

Dec 12, 2019; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Edmonton Oilers defenseman Caleb Jones (82) shoots during the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

4) Blake asks – What does everything think about the Caleb Jones contract, and how will it affect the defensive makeup going forward?

Jason Gregor:

Very good contract for the team. He is likely a third pairing defender next season and we’ll see how far he improves. I don’t think it alters the defensive makeup very much. Most expected the Oilers to try and shed salary (Russell most likely) in the off-season and I suspect that is still the plan. Jones on a $850K cap hit gives the Oilers more cap flexibility which they need.

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Robin Brownlee:

Good term and fair money for a young, developing player. Gives the team a longer look and gives Jones time to settle in. I don’t think it changes the make-up of anything this season, but if Jones shows well the rest of the way it might open up an opportunity for Ken Holland to dip into the blueline to make a deal for another top-six forward over the summer. Jones has played 41 NHL games. We don’t know what he is yet.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

I was surprised for two reasons. First, I thought Jones might be used as a trade chip to try add a forward before the deadline. Second, it’s a bargain. I think Jones is already an NHL calibre d-man and he should really only get better. To have him under contract for 850k for the next two seasons is a massive advantage for Holland and company. I would be very hesitant to move him now just because I think his contract is really good.

Baggedmilk:

Nice contract for an up and coming defenceman. I like the way Jones plays and think he could be a gem by the time this deal is done.

5) Tristan asks – Seeing as the Oilers are playing well right now, does anyone think that the bye week/All-Star break could not be coming at a worse time?

Jason Gregor:

They will get a week off to rest. Some players are going to warm spots, while others like Ethan Bear are just staying close. He is going back home to spend time with his family. “I never get to go home in the winter and it will be a great opportunity to create memories and have some fun,” he said. I’d expect them to come back rested, but also very excited for the push to the playoffs. I think it helps that their first game back is against Calgary. It will be intense, plus they have three days of practice prior to playing. They have played better with more practice time.

Robin Brownlee:

Don’t buy that. They get a chance to rest and heal on a high note while feeling good about themselves.

Tyler Yaremchuk:

Yeah, it probably is coming at a bad time, but what are you going to do about it, right? They need to rest up and find a way to keep this momentum going when they get back at it. The good news is that their first game back is a big one so they shouldn’t have a tough time getting emotionally invested in things.

Baggedmilk:

I hadn’t really thought about that but I really hope not. The boys are rolling right now and I hope the 10-day break doesn’t get in the way of that. On the other hand, maybe some of these guys are a little bit banged up and the break is exactly what they need to get their bodies right.

PRAY FOR PLAYOFFS

The boys are in the mix and we’re looking ahead to April. Please, Hockey Gords, make it so. Competitive games in January! Exclusively at NationGear.ca.