Oilers' Zack Kassian gets two-game suspension for role as aggressor in fight with Matthew Tkachuk

Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian effectively injected some juice into the Battle of Alberta over the weekend, but it's going to cost him. The NHL's Department of Player Safety announced a two-game suspension for Kassian on Monday as a result of his aggressive, violent antics during Calgary's 4-3 win over Edmonton on Saturday.

Tensions had built through the first half of the game and Kassian was not thrilled with Tkachuk's physicality, especially following this hit: 

Kassian clearly felt that Tkachuk hit him in a vulnerable spot and made too much head contact on the collision, and things got a bit heated. But things didn't boil over until later, when Tkachuk doubled down and threw another big hit on Kassian with a few minutes remaining in the second period. 

That's when things got nasty.

Clearly ticked off with Tkachuk running around and throwing the body around all over the place, Kassian decided he had enough and was going to do something about it. The Oilers veteran sought revenge and grabbed Tkachuk, who didn't seem to have much interest in fighting Kassian. Nevertheless, Kassian persisted and elected to start throwing punches at Tkachuk anyway, swinging at his head as the young Flames forward still had his gloves on and attempted to cover up. 

While fighting is permitted, attacking an unwilling combatant is frowned upon, so Kassian received a double-minor for roughing, a 10-minute misconduct for his role as aggressor, and, later, a hearing from the Department of Player Safety for his response.

In a video announcing the two-game ban, the DoPS cited the aggressor rule and noted Tkachuk's inability to defend himself as Kassian rag-dolled him around. 

From Rule 46.2 in the league rulebook:

"The aggressor is an altercation shall be the player (or goalkeeper) who continues to throw punches in an attempt to inflict punishment on his opponent who is in a defenseless position or who is an unwilling combatant.

"A player (or goalkeeper) must be deemed the aggressor when he has clearly won the fight but he continues throwing and landing punched in a further attempt to inflict punishment and/or injury on his opponent who is no longer in a position to defend himself."

As a result of his suspension, Kassian will forfeit about $21,000 in salary.

Tkachuk has a well-earned reputation of being able to get under the skin of opponents and drive even the most experienced veterans crazy, as evidenced by his continued feud with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Drew Doughty. You can officially add Kassian to the list of players who are fed up the Flames forward. 

And while this latest incident was ugly, it certainly adds a little spice to the Oilers-Flames rivalry for the remainder of the season. The Oilers' first opponent when Kassian finishes serving his suspension? The Calgary Flames. Game on.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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