NEW YORK — Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian has been suspended for two games without pay for grabbing Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk by the collar, throwing him to the ice and punching him several times.
The altercation occurred in the second period of the Flames’ 4-3 home win over the Oilers on Saturday. Kassian received two minor penalties for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct.
His attack on Tkachuk followed a hard check into the boards by the Flames player that sent Kassian’s helmet flying. Tkachuk refused to fight Kassian after the hit, a decision that was widely debated by fans and commentators.
Kassian will forfeit $20,967.74 under the terms of the players’ labour deal, the league announced Monday.
Kassian did not speak with reporters after skating with the Oilers earlier Monday.
Tkachuk, meanwhile, said he has no regrets about his decision not to fight Kassian.
“It wasn’t the right time to do it, against the right person. I have a feeling half the people in the league wouldn’t go with that guy,” Tkachuk said. “I just think I’d rather be out there than be in the (penalty) box with him, and I’m sure if you ask the rest of my teammates they’d rather (have) me out there instead of (being) taken off the ice.”
Tkachuk will be teammates on the Pacific Division squad with Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl at the upcoming All-Star game.
When asked what he would do if asked to share the ice with Tkachuk during the 3-on-3 tournament, Draisaitl said: “Probably get off the ice.”
Oilers forward James Neal was unimpressed with Tkachuk’s explanation for his actions, saying that if Tkachuk didn’t want to fight Kassian, “then don’t be taking 12-foot runs at him trying to kill him.”
“You don’t see anybody else in the league doing that because they know they have to fight him,” Neal said.