According to Bob McKenzie, Zack Kassian will receive an in-person hearing with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety for his kick to the chest of Erik Cernak on Thursday night.
In person hearing for Zack Kassian.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) February 14, 2020
The play in question, of course, is this one from last night’s game in Tampa Bay. Kassian and teammate Josh Archibald got tangled up with Cernak and Kassian appeared to kick Cernak in the chest as he got up. The play was not penalized and Kassian played the remainder of the game. While Cernak likely should have received an interference play here, the kick to the chest is a dangerous response.
For more context, here’s what Lightning reporter Diana C. Nearhos of the Tampa Bay Times had to say about the incident…
“Cernak was sitting on Kassian and fellow winger Josh Archibald, which should have been an interference penalty, but is a common move to keep someone (in this case someones) out of the play. Kassian pushed himself free and then aimed the kick at Cernak to get him off Archibald.
The play started when Kassian grabbed onto Cernak. Archibald lost his footing and barreled into the pair, upending them. Cernak stayed on top of the pile for an extra few seconds.
A linesman came up behind the play to break up the trio, but only a referee can call a penalty. Both referees were away from that pile watching the puck in play.”
Here’s what Kassian had to say of the play, according to Daniel Nugent-Bowman…
“He was holding my leg. It was reactionary,” said Kassian, again, taken aback when told he was the talk of social media. “I was just trying to get him off me, kick him off me. I was just trying to get my foot loose.”
Given how random the DoPS’ rulings have been (Zdeno Chara received only a fine for this vicious cross-check) it’s really impossible to say what Kassian will be tagged with. Kassian is a repeat offender as he just recently served a two-game suspension for his scrap with Matthew Tkachuk during a heated Battle of Alberta game. That history coupled with the fact the hearing is in person, giving the Department of Player Safety the ability to suspend a player for more than six games, it’s safe to assume Kassian will get a hefty suspension for this play.