I’m pleased to welcome another new free agent signing to RobTheHockeyGuy: Steve Lancashire. Steve lives in Calgary but is originally from Duncan, BC. He is a lifelong Canucks fan and has experience writing for the University of Victoria newspaper.
I was going to start my blogging venture with a nice fluff piece about what a good job John Tortorella has been doing thus far. Then Zack Kassian fly swatted Sam Gagner and I figured this would be a much more enjoyable topic. First I’ll comment on the suspension itself, then I will relentlessly criticize the Edmonton Oilers for their reaction to the whole ordeal.
It’s not that I don’t agree that there should be a suspension. There is no doubt that Kassian should be penalized for the reckless play that broke Sam Gagner’s jaw. But eight games (five in the regular season, three in the preseason)? I consider that too much for a play that Shanahan himself described as more or less accidental:
And while we accept Kassian’s assertion that he did not mean to strike Gagner in the face, he is responsible for the consequences of swinging his stick
I understand that everyone has their own opinions on what Kassian deserved. Many Vancouver fans actually support the eight game suspension and that’s fine. Personally though, I would have given Kassian the rest of the preseason and two or three regular season games. He needs to learn to control his stick but again, eight games for an accidental play is ludicrous.
Of course, not everyone shares my point of view. Which brings me to Edmonton’s new bench boss, Dallas Eakins.
Eakins didn’t hold anything back in his assessment of Zack Kassian:
It was a disturbing play by a disturbing player.
But how do you really feel Dallas? I understand he is pissed off that one of his best players is out indefinitely. He’s probably even more pissed that his second line center is suddenly Boyd Gordon. But calling Zack Kassian a disturbing player is a little ridiculous and unfair (it’s not like Kassian was caught eating a doughnut). It’s not fair because labeling a player that young as “disturbing” creates a negative reputation that in my mind isn’t deserved. At least let him accumulate a few more suspensions like the subject of my next thought…
We play them a lot down the stretch and we’re going to go after their skill players also.
That really worked out well last time he tried that. If Eager feels a retribution cheap shot is worth costing his fringe playoff team a win “down the stretch” when every point counts, then be my guest. The Canucks have proven they can handle Ben Eager, both physically and on the scoreboard. Eager will apparently have some help though, which brings me to my final thought.
Signing Steve McIntyre to protect the young stars of Edmonton may seem like a good move in light of Saturday night, but is signing an enforcer, who is really only capable of playing about 5 minutes a game, the best course of action? The Oilers are already down Nugent-Hopkins and Gagner. By dressing Eager and McIntyre, they are forcing even more minutes onto Taylor Hall who is already slated to carry a massive load on his shoulders if Edmonton is going to avoid falling out of the playoff race early. Maybe Eager and McIntyre will be able to deter teams from taking liberties with the young guns, but with the Nuge and Gagner out, I would argue that Hall needs skill and grit support, not goon support.