Canucks Game Day: Zack Kassian, Dale Weise suspended, won't face Coyotes
Rugged wingers on the NHL docket over Saturday incidents vs. Oilers
Zack Kassian has been suspended eight games (three pre-season, five regular season) and Dale Weise three games (all pre-season) by the NHL. What follows is the Canucks Game Day story, written before the decision earlier today.
VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks' morning skate Monday was more about who might not be playing tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes (7 p.m., Sportsnet Pacific, Team 1040) than who would be as the team awaited word on possible suspensions to right-wingers Zack Kassian and Dale Weise.
Both were involved in incidents Saturday night in Edmonton, Kassian for high-sticking and breaking the jaw of Oilers centre Sam Gagner and Weise for a head-checking penalty on Taylor Hall. Kassian and Weise had telephone hearings Monday morning with the NHL's department of player safety, led by Brendan Shanahan.
Kassian appears to be in bigger trouble than Weise and was asked — and waived — his right to an in-person hearing. The request for an in-person hearing allows the league to suspend a player for more than five games.
“I am not going to get into the details,” said Kassian, who skated with the Sedin twins in the morning line rushes. “It's over and done with. Obviously both sides have their opinions and that's the way every incident works. All I can do now is wait and see what happens and respect the league's decision. It was definitely accidental. I could sit here all day and plead my case. Like I said, it was accidental. In the game of hockey, things happens at a fast speed.
“I hope Sam Gagner has a full recovery,” added Kassian. “Obviously you never want to see someone get injured and have to miss games but it was a hockey play.”
Weise, who also took the morning skate Monday, was less forthcoming than Kassian. He is scheduled to play tonight alongside Mike Santorelli and Tom Sestito.
“We had the hearing this morning and I haven't heard back,” Weise said. “Hopefully I'll hear today and find out if I can play tonight.”
Rookies Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce were added to the game-day group and one, or both, will draw in based on the league ruling. Neither plays right wing, however, so that will likely necessitate a further shuffling of the lines. The other units this morning saw Ryan Kesler between Chris Higgins and Alex Burrows and Brad Richardson with Hunter Shinkaruk and Jannik Hansen.
The defence pairings slated to play tonight are Alex Edler with Chris Tanev, Jason Garrison with Kevin Bieksa and Andrew Alberts alongside Yannick Weber. Roberto Luongo will start in goal and is scheduled to play the full game. Eddie Lack is the backup.
Despite the Canucks' 0-3-0 pre-season mark, captain Henrik Sedin wasn't concerned about the team's inability to put an opponent away.
“I thought only playoffs mattered in this town,” quipped Henrik. “No, the pre-season record doesn't matter. We have a new system and we've played a lot of young guys. You can't look at the results. It's a matter of us getting to where we want to be system-wise. A lot of things are new for us. It's going to take a while.”
On the injury front, defenceman Dan Hamhuis (overall body soreness) skated Monday with the non-playing group. Assistant coach Mike Sullivan said there were no further updates on David Booth (groin), Nicklas Jensen (upper body) and Jordan Schroeder (foot), all of whom went down Saturday. Booth pulled up lame during Saturday's morning skate while Jensen and Schroeder were hurt in the Edmonton game.
North Vancouver's Gilbert Brule, on a tryout with the Coyotes, will be in their lineup tonight but notables missing include Shane Doan, Mike Ribeiro and Zbynek Michalek. Backup up goalie Thomas Griess will get the start with No. 1 man Mike Smith backing up.
“It's been all right, so far,” said Brule. “I've played in two games and I had one good one. In the second game, I was a little tired and sore as my body gets used to playing again. It was a bit of shock to the body. It's been great to be in this environment. I'm comfortable playing there, know quite a few of the guys and the coaches are awesome.”
Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said Brule is receiving “a great opportunity” to make his team.
“He's had a decent camp and he's playing with good energy,” commented Tippet. “He's in great shape and given himself a chance.”
ICE CHIPS: The Canucks sent another four players to the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets as goalie Joe Cannata, right-winger Benn Ferriero and defencemen Yann Sauve and Patrick Mullen were given plane tickets to upstate New York. The Comets, who dropped an AHL pre-season game 5-2 Sunday to the Abbotsford Heat, open their own training camp Wednesday.
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