Photo Credit: Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports

Tkachuk on Kassian: ‘If he doesn’t want to get hit, then stay off the tracks.’

There are 31 teams in the National Hockey League. 30 of them feature players that detest Matthew Tkachuk. On Saturday night, Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian attempted to rearrange aspects of Tkachuk’s face after a series of hits – including a pair that popped off Kassian’s helmet.

Tkachuk declined to participate in the fisticuffs.

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The officials ruled that Tkachuk’s hit was clean – though Kassian disagreed with that assessment – and levied a double-minor for roughing and a 10 minute misconduct to the Oilers forward for his indiscretion. (You may recall that Kassian took a triple-minor and a misconduct for a similar incident with Tkachuk last November. The Flames won that game, too.)

“He got me a little earlier but then the second time…I just grew up, you don’t let people take advantage of you no matter what the situation is,” said Kassian. “I think they were targeted hits. You’re behind the net and he comes down…it’s like Raffi Torres style in a way but I’m a bigger guy and I don’t get the biggest impact. If you’re going to hit like that you have to answer the bell once and a while. I’m not the first guy to say that.”

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Flames interim coach Geoff Ward was pleased with how Tkachuk handled himself – noting post-game that he felt that the second linesman should’ve jumped in earlier – while Tkachuk was a bit more blunt about his role in the game and his battle with Kassian.

“If he doesn’t want to get hit, then stay off the tracks,” said Tkachuk. “I caught him three times there – you think he’d learn after the first one. If he wants to react that way we’ll take the power play, we’ll take the game winner, and we’ll move on to first place.”

It’s unlikely that Kassian will face supplemental discipline for the one-sided fisticuffs for a few key reasons:

  1. There was no apparent injury to Tkachuk.
  2. The incident was part of a longer altercation (which Tkachuk started).
  3. Tkachuk had an opportunity to defend himself (and declined).
  4. Kassian himself has no recent history of fines or suspensions.
  5. Tkachuk is Tkachuk.

On Twitter, I pondered how this was different than Milan Lucic getting suspended two games for clocking Columbus’ Kole Sherwood earlier this season. Well, Lucic had a history of discipline for the exact same thing and Sherwood was put into concussion protocol.

It would be surprising if Kassian was even fined.

The Flames and Oilers play again on Jan. 29 in Edmonton.

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