Zack Kassian of the Vancouver Canucks was suspended eight games – including five regular-season games – for his stick swing that broke the jaw of Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner on Saturday in a preseason game.
We predicted eight games, and it was a fairly easy call for the NHL: Reckless stick work is always going to get a suspension; and the injury to Gagner, a critical loss of another center for the Oilers, warranted a hefty suspension, based on how we’ve seen the Department of Player Safety operate.
Here’s the Brendan Shanahan explanation:
Good catch by the DoPS video, as Kassian begins to swing his stick long before any momentum might have brought it around to hit the boards.
Kassian’s defense, as expected, was that he didn’t intend to strike Gagner in the jaw with his stick. But that’s not how the NHL rolls in supplemental discipline: Please recall the recent tweak to Rule 48. The NHL didn't really pin any intent on Kassian, calling it a "spinning stop" with a reckless result; but a reckless act, resulting in a significant injury, is going to earn a suspension just as well.
Especially one that depletes an already depleted position for a division rival.