NHL: Police charge Kassian after bar altercation
WINDSOR, Ont. — Windsor police said Wednesday they charged Zack Kassian with assault following a weekend bar fight, leaving the first-round NHL entry draft pick facing the prospect of being denied entry to the United States.
“If an individual has an assault charge on their record, they’d be found inadmissible into the United States,” said Chief Ron Smith of U.S. Customs and Border Protection. “There are ways to mitigate that, primarily through the Department of State which issues visas.
“But under normal circumstances, initially, the individual would be inadmissible in the United States for the assault charge.”
Kassian, a 19-year-old member of the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires, was arrested after a fight around 1:50 a.m. Sunday at The Beach Sports Bar and Grill.
A uniformed Windsor police officer was working contract duty at the bar when he noticed a commotion on the patio.
He went over to find a 20-year-old bleeding man covering his mouth and several men yelling at each other.
The bleeding man pointed to a man standing nearby as the person who punched him. The victim suffered a chipped tooth but didn’t need immediate medical treatment.
Kassian was later released from custody on a promise to appear in court in July.
Sgt. Brett Corey said investigators were still canvassing witnesses, who gave similar stories to what the victim told police.
Police still weren’t sure what sparked the fight.
The Spitfires say Kassian is expected to play a key role when he returns to the Memorial Cup champion team next season.
The Spitfires play road games in three U.S. cities — Saginaw, Erie and Plymouth — which could pose a difficulty for Kassian.
In 2009, as a captain of the Peterborough Petes, Kassian was suspended for a game for breaking curfew.
Kassian, six-foot-three and 215 pounds, is known for his on-ice roughness. The OHL handed him a 20-game suspension in January for hitting a Barrie player in the head.
The Buffalo Sabres, who selected Kassian in the NHL entry draft last June mainly because of his size and toughness, wouldn’t talk about the incident.
“The Buffalo Sabres are aware of the situation and are not commenting on it at this time because it’s a pending legal matter,” said public relations director Michael Gilbert.
Even without a conviction, Smith said the assault charge could be enough to stop Kassian from crossing the border.
“It all depends on what the Canadian authorities have put into the system,” he said. “If a name is run and there’s that information, typically they’ll be sent into secondary (inspection) where they’ll verify everything. They could deny entry into the United States.”
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