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Zack Kassian has doled out 1,067 hits throughout his profession, however can not seem to deal with taking one


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The Edmonton Oilers winger believed Matthew Tkachuk ought to have answered the bell for successful he threw in Saturday’s Battle of Alberta, and nothing will take away hitting from the sport quicker than the supposed want for each large bodycheck to be adopted by a battle.Zack Kassian throws punches at Matthew Tkachuk|Derek Leung/Getty ImagesIt’s truthful to say after Saturday night time’s Four-Three win by the Calgary Flames over the Edmonton Oilers, The Battle of Alberta is again on. First, each groups are concurrently related and in playoff competition for under the second time since 2005-06, albeit within the league’s worst division, albeit being the one playoff groups with damaging targets differentials and albeit with the Oilers truly out of the playoffs whenever you measure by factors share.
However we’ll take it. Hey, possibly these two groups will even meet within the playoffs, one thing that won’t have occurred, if you happen to can consider it, in 28 years. It’s not what it as soon as was as a result of neither workforce seems significantly near profitable a Stanley Cup anytime quickly, however the Oilers as soon as once more have the most effective participant on the earth – which doesn’t appear truthful. And properly, the dangerous blood continues to be there, as evidenced by what occurred Saturday night time.
The sport had every little thing. Bodily play, an impressive rush by Connor McDavid, back-and-forth lead adjustments and even slightly skatey-punchey for individuals who assume the sport wants that stuff so long as they’re not those getting smacked within the face. However most of all, what The Battle of Alberta has now’s a villain. Matthew Tkachuk has no drawback sporting the black hat, one thing he’s sporting with satisfaction proper about now figuring out that he not solely drove Zach Kassian into the boards, but additionally right into a listening to with the NHL’s Division of Participant Security.
There was nothing about Tkachuk’s hit on Kassian late within the second interval – or one other one earlier within the sport – that was something greater than a hockey play. Actually, the second embodied every little thing that makes the sport particular. It was laborious, it was clear and it was impactful. No charging, no head contact, no arms up. Actually, you may argue that Tkachuk might need even pulled up slightly earlier than delivering the hit. However there’s a sure sector of observers – and you may clearly rely Kassian as one in every of them – who consider that form of hit means Tkachuk ought to have been ready to “reply the bell” and battle Kassian. However Tkachuk wouldn’t. As an alternative, he allowed Kassian to lose his cool and get an inexplicable double minor for roughing as an alternative of a five-minute combating main. (Kassian dropped his gloves and pounded on Tkachuk. On the identical night time, Vince Dunn and Jacob Trouba threw their gloves off and exchanged a flurry of punches with Dunn receiving a minor for roughing. Precisely what sport are these referees watching?) And Calgary used the benefit to attain the game-winner on the ability play.
Predictably, Tkachuk was vilified by the pro-Oiler crowd, with Kassian main the campaign by calling Tkachuk “a younger punk” and “a pu—y.” Stated Tkachuk wouldn’t battle him two years in the past as a result of he was a fourth-liner and nonetheless gained’t despite the fact that Kassian has 13 targets. “What’s the excuse now?” Kassian stated. Nicely, maybe the excuse is that it’s ridiculous to assume a participant ought to must battle as a result of he’s had the temerity to throw a few laborious, clear checks. If anybody ought to must reply for his actions, it was McDavid, who threw a unclean and doubtlessly harmful hit on Tkachuk from behind into the boards in response to the hit on Kassian. If you wish to be outraged, the McDavid hit was the one which has no place within the sport.
In some way prior to now 10 years or so, this blight has foisted itself upon the sport. There was a time when a participant – no matter whether or not he was a star participant or a fourth-liner – would often get blown up by a clear, laborious hit and reply by selecting himself up and getting again into the play. There was no sense that it wanted to be avenged and everybody understood that. Then it turned taboo to hit star gamers with out having to cope with repercussions. Now you’ll be able to’t even hit a celebrity 13-goal scorer comparable to Zack Kassian with out having to battle. In the event you actually need to take away hitting from the sport, this can be a good method to do it.
All of it goes again to this notion that has discovered its means into hockey that any slight – perceived or actual, massive or small – completely must be avenged with gusto. It’s the sort of pondering that gave us the Todd Bertuzzi incident, however you realize, individuals are gradual to be taught on this sport typically. As Tkachuk stated, the Flames took the ability play and the aim and first place within the division. And all he needed to do for it was take a flurry of punches from a participant who has doled out 1,067 hits throughout his profession, however can’t appear to take one himself.
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Tags: calgary flames, edmonton oilersConnect: Concerning the AuthorKen CampbellKen Campbell, The Hockey Information’ senior author, is in his second tour with the model after an eight-year stint as a beat reporter for the Maple Leafs for the Toronto Star. The Sudbury native as soon as tried out for the Ontario League’s Wolves as a 30-year-old. Evidently, it did not work out.

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