Sam Gagner of the Edmonton Oilers has had most of his face hidden behind a plastic shield this season. It protects his jaw, which was shattered in the preseason by a reckless swing of the stick by Zack Kassian of the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian pleaded with Brendan Shanahan and the Department of Players Safety that he didn’t intend to strike Gagner with his stick. It didn’t fly, and he was suspended for three preseason and five regular season games.
Gagner faced the Canucks for the first time this season on Friday night. At one point, the teams were involved in a scrum that included his former oral surgeon Kassian.
Because hockey is a nasty, twisted psychological war in which nearly every topic can be weaponized for agitation, Kassian looked over at Gagner went … there.
That’s Kassian, allegedly mocking Gagner’s face shield by asking him “what’s that?”
The face shield he wears because Kassian shattered his jaw.
Here's the full sequence. Some Canucks fans claim he's making fun of Luke Gadzic's facial hair, although Gagner is clearly engaged in the shouting match on the bench as well:
This was also Kassian’s first game against the Oilers since he broke Gagner’s face. He scored a goal in their 4-0 victory. The only penalty taken by the Oilers against him came at 19:12 when David Perron went off for roughing. So no, he didn’t pay the price for his previous transgressions.
Not that he wasn't ready, telling The Province before the game:
Who knows? I’m happy [Steve] MacIntyre is not in the lineup, that’s for sure,” Kassian said of the Oilers’ demoted enforcer of whom he said: “I don’t even think he can skate.”
“I’m not too worried about somebody coming after me — I have no problems standing up for myself. I’m going to play the game hard,” he said. “If they want to get some kind of revenge, the door is open. Go ahead.”
They didn't, and Kassian got the last laugh, literally and figuratively.