Hi. By now I’m sure everyone has heard/seen/read about Zach Kassian’s decision to thrust his leg in a kicking motion towards the chest of Erik Cernak following a takedown in last night’s game between the Edmonton Oilers (without Conner McDavid) and the Tampa Bay Lightning (without Anthony Cirelli).
It was a perplexing reaction from a player who has found headlines (and suspensions) for exhibiting less than the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct in the past. It’s also the type of action that will illicit a personal meeting with the Department of Player Safety. I’m pretty sure they still have his number in their phone log since it was just a month ago he was suspended for two games by DoPS for his in-game beatdown of noted angel on ice Matthew Tkachuk.
We’re nothing if not magnanimous here at Raw Charge. So instead of piling on to the judgement already rendered by the court of Twitter, we’re going to offer Mr. Kassian some assistance in his upcoming discussion. For free, I’m going to offer all of my experience (three semesters of criminology courses at the prestigious Saint Leo College) and provide nine (because ten is too much work) possible defenses he can use to argue for, if not complete exoneration, at least a reduced sentence.
I’ve included some possible loopholes that may undermine the argument. That way he has time to come up with some possible answers. Hey, I can’t do all the work here.
Here they are in no particular order.
9: I was pinned down and had no other method to free myself and assist my teammate’s in preventing a dangerous scoring opportunity from one of the top offenses in the league. I was just trying to be a team player and free myself from the evil clutches of Erik Cernak.
Problem with this defense: I hate to sound like a kid who got into a fight on a playground, but he kind of started it. In the full clip, Kassian and Cernak are hugging it out on the boards and Kassian has a firm grip on Cernak when another player (Josh Archibald?) comes sliding in and takes out both players. Cernak does pin them both down for an extra beat or two, but kicking a guy in the chest with a sharp bladed skate is a bit of an overreaction.
8: I barely touched him!
Problem with this defense: From the angle of the most popular clip floating around social media, Cernak barely moves after Kassian makes contact. Which speaks to the solid ruggedness of the solid granite statue of a man that is Erik Cernak. Also, you have a sharpened piece of steel on your foot. It doesn’t take much to cut someone.
7: Big fan of Johnny Cage.
Problem with this defense: Umm, this isn’t a video game? Pretty sure in the history of hockey video games, no combination of button smashing allowed you to have a player kick someone else.
6: “I was just trying to get my foot loose”
Problem with this defense: Despite working in the title of an excellent 80s movie, it’s a bit of an extreme action. Please note, this is his actual defense as of last night. The full quote: “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 me foot loose. If I kicked him hard, I think he would have flew back or the ref would have called a penalty.”
More problems: You have a blade on your foot, kicking a guy who’s pinning you down is a bit of an overreaction. Pretty sure it’s not the first time in the history of hockey that someone has pinned a player down for a couple of seconds. If someone hits me with their backpack on a crowded bus, I’m still going to get in trouble if I kick him or her in the chest with a sharpened piece of steel on my foot.
5: Big fan of Sweet Chin Music.
Problem with this defense: Again, and I feel like I may be belaboring this point a bit, Shawn Michaels didn’t have a sharp blade strapped to the end of his foot. But hey, you just watched twenty-seven minutes of Michaels kicking people in the face so I’m leaning toward him using this one.
4: I didn’t kick him. I raised my leg to free it and the earth’s gravitational rotation spun my foot into his chest.
Problem with this defense: I’m not sure that’s how it works, but what do I know I’m a history major that was four credits short of a criminology minor. The last time I sat in a science class was sometime around the Clinton administration.
3: It was clean and clear contact to the chest. You know, right where all that chest protection stuff is. You guys are only worried about head shots, right?
Problem with this defense: Actually, the DoPS is concerned with all types of violent action by the gentlemen on the ice, not just head shots. Some folks on Twitter, I’m sure they were trolling, actually used the “chest protector” defense. Which, if you want online strangers to think you’re an idiot, is a good way to go.
2: It wasn’t a penalty on the ice. No foul, no harm, right?
Problem with this defense: Again, it doesn’t work that way. Refs and linesmen will occasionally miss calls on the ice, especially when it happens behind the play. That’s why this amazing technology called video exists. Just because a penalty isn’t called on the ice doesn’t mean it didn’t happen and that there should be no consequences.
1: Isn’t this the town that came up with “Kick Ice” as a slogan?
He does have a point. George Parros, let him go.