Edmonton Oilers’ Zack Kassian gets 7-game suspension for kicking Tampa Bay Lightning’s Erik Cernak

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Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian has been handed a seven-game suspension for a delivering a kick to the chest of Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Erik Cernak.

NHL Player Safety tweeted the decision Friday evening. In a video posted to the NHL’s website, the league said while it acknowledges Kassian’s explanation of the kicking — that he was simply trying to untangle himself from the other players — “that in no way justifies this action.”

The kick happened late in the first period as the Lightning hosted the Oilers on Thursday night. Kassian hit Cernak close to the Tampa Bay blue line, pulling the defenceman to the ice.

As the two attempted to get up, Kassian delivered a kick with his skate to the chest of Cernak.

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“NHL players regularly become entangled with opponents and teammates, and regularly remove themselves from the pile safely and legally, without putting themselves or their opponents at the risk of serious injury,” the NHL said.

READ MORE: Red-hot Lightning knock off Edmonton Oilers

The NHL Department of Safety said Friday morning that Kassian had waived his right to an in-person hearing and a phone hearing was scheduled for Friday afternoon.



This is the second time in as many months Kassian has been in trouble with the review board.

In a now-infamous Battle of Alberta on Jan. 11, Kassian and Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk got into a fight. Tkachuk levelled Kassian with a couple of big hits and then, late in the second, Kassian punched Tkachuk several times and was hit with a two-game suspension.

READ MORE: Calgary Flames edge Edmonton Oilers in shootout in spirited Battle of Alberta

The two teams met again, this time in Edmonton, on Jan. 29. Tempers flared and the fists flew with two fights 24 seconds apart late in the first. First, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sean Monahan dropped the gloves, but the fight fans were waiting for what happened next. Kassian and Tkachuk went toe-to-toe off a face off in the Flames end.

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The Edmonton Oilers are in action next Saturday afternoon against the Florida Panthers. Kassian will be eligible to return on Feb. 29 against the Winnipeg Jets.

Puck drops at 2 p.m., 630 CHED will have all the action, starting with the Faceoff Show at 12:30 p.m.

– With files from Reid Wilkins/630 CHED and Global News’ Heide Pearson

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