Speaking to the media shortly after the NHL's Department of Player Safety ruled that Kassian will be suspended for the Oilers' next two games due to the on-ice altercation with Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk on Saturday night, the Oilers winger held nothing back in voicing his displeasure.
Zack Kassian #44 of the Edmonton Oilers pummels Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames during an National Hockey League game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 11, 2020 in Calgary. 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.
Kassian said the hits Tkachuk laid out are part of the game, though he did call them "predatorial" even if they were clean.
The scrap also has potential to make for some interesting moments at the upcoming NHL All-Star Game on January 25 because Tkachuk will be teammates with Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian effectively injected some juice into the Battle of Alberta over the weekend, but it's going to cost him. "If the league is saying it's clean I can do exactly that". He's in a vulnerable position. It's been gone from the game for a long time. If it was a different type of player out there, maybe.
With 12 points on the power play this season, Tkachuk understands the value of a man advantage and doesn't mind looking cowardly if his team ends up with the win - which they got by a score of 4-3 against the Oilers on Saturday.
When Draisaitl was asked on Monday what he would do if he and McDavid found themselves sharing the ice with Tkachuk for some 3-on-3 during all-star, he said simply: "I would probably get off the ice", per Jim Matheson.
Many criticized Tkachuck for "turtling", after taking runs at Kassian but then refusing to drop the mitts with him. Am I going to see Looch (Milan Lucic) coming around the net and am I going to target his head?
"I'd do it again all over again", Kassian said Tuesday.