Edmonton sports corner: The Kassian risk
EDMONTON — The Edmonton Oilers announced Monday they acquired forward Zack Kassian in a trade with the Montreal Canadiens.
Leading up to the deal, there were a lot of upset people on Twitter and blogs saying that’s not the right guy to bring to the organization.
Absolutely, people should be concerned. This is a guy who just finished stage two of the National Hockey League and Players Association’s joint substance abuse program.
Not to mention, we all remember his swinging stick which caught Sam Gagner in the face, breaking his jaw and knocking out a number of teeth.
READ MORE: Oilers centre Sam Gagner out with broken jaw
The recovery for poor Gagner was brutal. I can’t imagine what he’s thinking right now seeing the team that drafted him trade for a guy who many believe swung that stick on purpose.
This is polarizing on Twitter. Here is just some of the reaction we received regarding the character of 24-year-old Kassian:
— Graham Troughton (@GrahamTroughton) December 28, 2015
— Todd Roberts (@ToRobert38) December 28, 2015
While I don’t respect the things he’s done in the past, I think this guy has a pretty good understanding of where he is in his career and you have to believe he’s going to work hard to make things right.
He’s 24 and this is his fourth NHL team.
He hasn’t played a single regular season game this year because of a suspension without pay and he was placed in stage two of the substance abuse program. Keep in mind, stage two is for players who have previously had problems and didn’t comply with their after-care program.
Then, when he was reinstated this month, he was placed on waivers and wasn’t picked up. If that’s not a wake up call for your career, I don’t know what could be.
The thing with Kassian is he is big, he can be mean and he has some skill. The Oilers could stand to get bigger and stronger.
And as Peter Chiarelli said to media on Monday, the Edmonton Oilers are a rush team and Kassian can cycle the puck. That is a component Chiarelli is looking to add as he thinks it’s a more “durable type of component for winning in the long run.”
This is about trust.
The fans have to trust that Chiarelli has done his homework; he said he’s had numerous conversations with Kassian who told him, ‘I could promise you things but I am going have to show them.’
And Chiarelli has to trust that Kassian means what he says.
There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is Kassian’s last opportunity in the NHL. Let’s see what he does with it because, at the end of the day, with big risk comes the chance for big reward.
© 2015 Shaw Media