Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian has been suspended seven games for kicking Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Erik Cernak‘s chest, the NHL’s Department of Player Safety announced.
Kassian waived his right to an in-person hearing, and the NHL Department of Player Safety conducted a phone hearing on Friday afternoon instead.
A two-game suspension for being an aggressor in the Matthew Tkachuk altercation in January made Kassian a repeat offender, which would’ve played a factor in the league’s decision this time.
Being a repeat offender also means that this seven-game suspension will cost Kassian $166,463.41 in salary.
During the first period of Thursday night’s game in Tampa Bay, Kassian became tangled with the Lightning player on the ice and he appeared to kick Cernak as they struggled to separate.
“It felt like we were there a lifetime. We were down there for a while,” Kassian said after the game on Thursday. “He was holding my leg, it was reactionary. I was just trying to get him off me, kick him off me. I was just trying to get my foot loose.”
Cernak added: “He kicked me right in the chest, so luckily that wasn’t higher. I knew right away when he was on the ice he kicked me. I think he was a little bit mad and I asked him what was wrong with him, because that’s not a right play to do on the ice, and he didn’t say nothing.”
The Oilers close out their road trip with back-to-back games against the Florida Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes this weekend.