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Insiders defend Zack Kassian and blast Matt Tkachuk’s dangerous plays



The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety is likely to rule against Zack Kassian and had him a suspension on Monday for beating on Caglary’s Matt Tkachuk, who refused to engage Kassian in a fight after charging and hitting him.

Player Safety has also said there will be no discipline for Tkachuk after his dangerous hits on Kassian last night, reports ESPN: “Both hits delivered on Kassian were legal, full body checks delivered to a player carrying the puck.”

But former NHL players and league insiders have much better things to say about Kassian than they do Tkachuk, whom fans of the Edmonton Oilers have labelled as The Turtle or Turtlechuk for his refusal to fight Kassian.

Said TSN’s Ray Ferraro, an ex-NHL sniper, on the Twitter: “On Tkachuk hits v Kassian. I’m serious here. Aren’t these the same hits Raffi Torres used to throw that the league eventually said were penalties? Any hit from above goal line to player coming from below. #thenandnow”

And TSN commentator Jason Strudwick, who played defence for more than a decade in the NHL: “Kassian will find his road dinners paid for more often by other NHL players for his work Saturday night. The old ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ situation. #freebies #subclubcoupons… You can’t stop the antics of Tkachuk. He is wired that way. So you go after guys who aren’t wired like that and can score for the Flames. Make their night uncomfortable and skate away from Tkachuk. But I would have had the same reaction if Tkachuk had hit me like that. He is a LW coming from the top of circle in own end to hit Kassian behind his net. He was looking for that hit.”

And Corey Hirsch, former NHL goalie and current Sportsnet commentator: “2 reckless head hits in the same game to Kassian, and he’s going to get suspended for having to take matters into his own hands. Smh.”

And former NHL winger Scottie Upshall, commenting on the above clip: “From this angle, it’s clear as day MT (Matt Tkachuk) has ABSOLUTELY ZERO intention of making a hockey play. Again, for those of u who haven’t played at any level, other than Xbox, our new NHL states u must acknowledge there’s a puck on the ice at some point (I had no idea most nights either!)…. Kassian payed the price already. His team lost a big game on his instigator penalty. Smoked 3 times by M.T and he took it like a MAN. By the 3rd hit, he had enough and let the kid know it’s still a MANS game. (Or is it?) Sometimes a punch in the face (or 5) is what a guy needs… For those u haven’t played the game…. coming down from your WING (as a winger) to hit a vulnerable guy on a wraparound is as DIRTY as it gets… I know because I’ve done it, lots. I deserved a punch in the face too. If this hit was on McDavid, 10 GAMER MIN!.”

And former NHLer PJ Stock, now a hockey commentator: “This is where the game is going in the wrong direction. How many players are with concussions today bc of players allowed to get away with their style of play and not be held accountable. The same intention of that hit, yes way way worse on many levels, but by a rookie with-No history- gets 20 games (Stock linked here to a hit by Steve Downie on Dean McAmmond). Yes player left his feet and Dean was hurt but intentions are the same. 20 games. No history. If Connor McDavid were to receive that hit..and get hurt…would Kassian be having this talk? Or would we celebrate him?”

NHL insiders also came to the defence of Kassian.

Boston Bruins insider Joe Haggerty of NBC sports: “The NHL is getting in their own way by moving to punish Zack Kassian after he handled things on the ice w/Matthew Tkachuk in the right way. A vicious way, but the right way. Once again they protect gutless opportunists & punish guys trying to deter it”

In a column, Haggerty added: “Maybe the NHL will handle it the proper way and simply slap Kassian with a fine rather than a more draconian suspension for doing what many NHL players want to do to Tkachuk. It’s another example of the NHL protecting a rat-type player that doesn’t want to answer for their predatory actions on the ice and instead going after somebody that was defending themselves in the way they know best. One player is pretty clearly trying to knock the other one’s head off while lining him up for hits that he doesn’t see coming. The other one is simply trying to curtail the action albeit by throwing the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Tkachuk around like he’s a child that snuck his way into a men’s league hockey game.”

Zack Kassian #44 of the Edmonton Oilers pummels Matthew Tkachuk #19 of the Calgary Flames during an NHL game at Scotiabank Saddledome on January 11, 2020 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

Derek Leung /

Getty Images

And Hockey Night in Canada host Dan Murphy: “One (if not both) of Tkachuk’s hits was really dirty. I don’t mind Kassian’s response at all. I don’t mind Tkachuk not fighting there. Adds to his elite level of a crap disturber. Thanks for coming to my TED Talk. I will not be taking questions.”

And NHL Player Safety Mod, a moderator not affiliated with the NHL who comments on major incidents: “Two separate incidents with Zack Kassian-Matthew Tkachuk tonight. If officials made correct call, Tkachuk would’ve been removed from the game in the first period after an illegal check to the head of Kassian at 9:18 in the first period.”

And scout Mark Seidel of North American Central Scouting Independent Bureau: “To be clear. I love Matthew Tkachuk & he could play for me anytime but he can’t have it both ways. If he wants to lay predatory hits, he needs to stand up & be accounted for. He clearly targeted Kassian but then bailed on answering the bell. He’ll learn but it’s a bad look.”

And the Journal’s Jim Matheson on Twitter: “I must be operating in a different universe on the Kassian-Tkachuk scenario. Kassian should have received a major for fighting and Tkachuk two for a clear charge from behind. And what was linesman doing as Kassian kept throwing them? Kassian will likely get game or two suspension… Our game has become so sanitized that Kassian trying to get his pound of flesh from Tkachuk for running him dangerously from behind into the end boards is looked upon as a cowardly move because Tkachuk won’t fight or hold on. Sorry I’m old school…”

My take

  1. If the on-ice referees had got it right Tkachuk would have been out of the game for the charging blind side head shot on Kassian in the first period.
  2. If the NHL doesn’t take this illegal and dangerous initial hit into account when it considers Kassian’s attack on Tkachuk, it’s rejecting pertinent evidence. It was a failure of the refs to miss the dangerous element of that first Tkachuk hit, and it’s gross incompetence on the part of NHL Player Safety to now say there was no illegal aspect to that initial hit.
  3. I wish the Oilers had drafted Matt Tkachuk. But he needs to be suspended for these vicious and sneaky hits or all hell is going to break loose. It already is.

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Jones scores four TDs as Packers bounce back to beat Lions – TSN



GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) — Aaron Jones caught three of Aaron Rodgers’ four touchdown passes and rushed for a fourth score, and the Green Bay Packers had a welcome return to normal after an embarrassing opening-week loss, beating the Detroit Lions 35-17 on Monday night.

Green Bay (1-1) won its ninth straight home opener. The Packers, who got thumped 38-3 by the New Orleans Saints in Week 1, looked more like the team that went 13-3 in each of coach Matt LaFleur’s first two seasons.

Rodgers went 22 of 27 for 255 yards and surpassed John Elway for 10th all-time in passing yards with 51,633. Rodgers has followed up each of the Packers’ last five regular-season losses by throwing four touchdown passes and no interceptions in his next game.

Jones became the first Packers running back to catch three touchdown passes in a game since Andy Uram against the Chicago Cardinals in 1942. He had 17 carries for 67 yards and six catches for 48 yards.

Detroit’s Jared Goff completed 13 of his first 14 passes but struggled the rest of the way as the Lions (0-2) blew a 17-14 halftime lead. Goff finished 26 of 36 for 246 yards. He connected on touchdown passes to Quintez Cephus and T.J. Hockenson but also threw an interception and lost a fumble.

Green Bay scored touchdowns on its first three second-half possessions to seize control.

The Packers faced third-and-12 on their opening series of the second half when Rodgers threw a 50-yard completion to Davante Adams, who ended the night with eight catches for 121 yards.

Lions rookie cornerback Ifeatu Melifonwu injured his thigh on the play, further weakening a secondary that already lost cornerback Jeff Okudah to a ruptured Achilles tendon in Detroit’s season-opening loss to the San Francisco 49ers.

Green Bay dominated the rest of the way.

Rodgers capped that drive with a 22-yard touchdown pass to Robert Tonyan. Detroit’s next series ended when Goff threw an incompletion on fourth-and-1 from the Green Bay 25.

Rodgers threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jones to extend the Packers’ lead to 28-17.

Green Bay’s Krys Barnes recovered Goff’s fumble at the Detroit 23 on the Lions’ next snap. Jones scored on a 1-yard run and that was that.


Lions: WR Tyrell Williams missed the game with a concussion. … Melifonwu did not return after the thigh injury.

Packers: TE Josiah Deguara was out with a concussion.


The Packers activated wide receiver Equanimeous St. Brown from the practice squad, giving him the chance to play against his younger brother. The Lions selected receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown out of Southern California in the fourth round of this year’s draft. Amon-Ra had the better stat line with three receptions for 18 yards, while Equanimeous had one catch for no gain.


Green Bay’s Lucas Patrick, who started at left guard against New Orleans, was active after getting out of concussion protocol. But he wasn’t on the field for the opening series.

Jon Runyan Jr. was at left guard instead in the 2020 sixth-round pick’s first career start. Runyan’s father was an All-Pro tackle who went on to represent New Jersey in Congress from 2011-15.


The Packers wore a helmet decal to honor Ted Thompson, who worked as the team’s general manager from 2005-17 and died Jan. 20 at the age of 68. The Packers also honored Thompson during a halftime ceremony.


Lions: Host Baltimore (1-1) on Sunday. The Ravens are coming off a Sunday night victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.

Packers: At San Francisco (2-0) on Sunday night. This will be the fourth time in the last three seasons the Packers have played at San Francisco. They won 34-17 last season. Two years ago, the Packers lost 37-8 to the 49ers in the regular season and 37-20 in the NFC championship game.


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Josh Donaldson swapping jerseys with Vlad Guerrero a Blue Jays moment that won’t be forgotten – Toronto Star



It was a moment Blue Jays fans won’t soon forget, and one they will hope eventually represents a passing of the torch from one American League most valuable player to another.

Josh Donaldson, Toronto’s 2015 MVP now with the Minnesota Twins, signing and exchanging jerseys with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., who is vying for his first MVP nod this season, following a three-game series between the two teams.

The pair set up the jersey exchange on Saturday and it caused quite a stir of emotion a day later, the end of an already emotional weekend with Donaldson’s return and the Jays back in a wild-card spot.

There they were — the man who last led the Jays’ World Series hopes and the man fans hope can take Toronto one step further by clinching the top prize.

“He just told me after, ‘Stay focused and keep working hard until the end,’” Guerrero Jr. said post-game of his interaction with Donaldson.

Donaldson, 35, is no stranger to hearing fans at Rogers Centre shout “MVP, MVP” during an at-bat. This time around he received a standing ovation during his first plate appearance of the series but the kinds of cheers he once received were now directed at the 22-year-old Guerrero.

The veteran was all for it. When asked on Saturday if he thought Guerrero deserved to join him and 1987 winner George Bell as Blue Jays MVPs, Donaldson’s answer was clear.

“It should happen,” Donaldson said. “He’s put up (an) astronomical season from the offensive side and he’s contributing on the defensive side. The guy’s got a 1.000 OPS at 22 years old, being a huge contributor.”

Guerrero’s stiffest competition in the race for AL MVP is Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who many believe is a lock for the award as his team’s staff ace and most productive hitter — he is doing something that has never before been seen in Major League Baseball. But Guerrero, who is vying for the Triple Crown as the league leader in home runs, batting average and runs batted in, is mounting a late season challenge for the award as Ohtani navigates some late season troubles.

The Angels star’s numbers at the plate have dipped in the second half of the season and there has been talk of him being shut down from pitching in the final portion of the season because of arm soreness. And then there’s the age-old question: can a player be the most valuable if his team is not headed to the playoffs? Guerrero and the Jays could very well be; Ohtani and the Angels are not in post-season contention.

To Donaldson, there are holes in the argument for Ohtani: he didn’t start every fifth day, the recent injury could cause him to miss most of September on the mound and, as a designated hitter, he doesn’t impact both sides of the game. Guerrero, on the other hand, strikes fear in opposing lineups unlike any other player this season, Donaldson said.

And if the Jays make the playoffs, Donaldson said, that should tip the scales in Guerrero’s favour.

“If you take Vlad out of that lineup, this isn’t the same team,” Donaldson said. “Not that this isn’t a good lineup, because it is. But what Vlad’s doing is … he’s that security blanket for the rest of that lineup (with) what he’s producing. He takes pressure off of everybody else.”

Hearing that kind of praise from Donaldson, who spent the weekend at the ballpark happily reuniting with familiar faces he knew from his four years in Toronto and touting Guerrero’s MVP worthiness to anyone who would listen, left Guerrero nearly speechless but maybe not surprised. Guerrero, who was signed by the Jays the same year Donaldson won the MVP in 2015, said Donaldson has long been supportive of his career.

“Coming from Josh, it’s unbelievable what he said. Especially coming from someone that already won the MVP,” Guerrero said. “Since I was in the minors when he was here, he was always giving me advice, especially in spring training. When I was playing third, helping me out, taking ground balls with him. He’s always been great to me and I really appreciate his comments.”


Conversations are opinions of our readers and are subject to the Code of Conduct. The Star does not endorse these opinions.

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft shocked a gay flag football team by showing up to support it – Yahoo Canada Sports



Imagine coming off the field from your neighborhood flag football game, dripping in weekend-warrior sweat, and there stands the owner of the New England Patriots. 

Naturally, you might be curious why Robert Kraft — a man said to have a net worth north of $8 billion — is, you know, there. Just hanging out.

Was Kraft watching a relative or close friend play? Did he happen to be nearby and just wander over? Did his driver get lost?

No, it turns out that Kraft was simply there to support a Massachusetts gay flag football team.

There was no press release. No attention drawing needed. Just your average billionaire NFL franchise owner supporting a gay flag football team and a great local charity. 

As one of the flag football team members, Alex Reimer of, noted in his blog about the event, Kraft just swung by to watch the action — one day before the Patriots took on the New York Jets on the road.

What’s the big deal, you ask? Well, it’s a sign that Kraft doesn’t just support the group — FLAG Flag Football Boston — with financial backing. He also comes to watch them play. That’s a personal touch money can’t buy.

There also was a charitable component to the weekend. The flag football team helped raise donations of 25,000 items for Hope & Comfort, a local charity that helps with hygiene insecurity for needy youths and families in the area. The Patriots helped support the cause, and the owner was on hand for it.

Kudos to Kraft, who has been a big supporter of the LGBTQ community for years (even before it was popular to do so) and who appears to go above and beyond mere check writing and ribbon cutting.

This is the kind of outreach we’d love to see more of in the NFL community, and Kraft’s above-and-beyond effort shows that even the world’s wealthiest people can donate something that carries even more value than donations.

Their time.

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