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Zack Kassian suspended 7 games

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Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian was suspended seven games by the NHL on Friday for kicking an opponent in the chest.

Kassian swung his right leg and kicked Tampa Bay forward Erik Cernak in the chest during a game Thursday night. He was offered an in-person hearing that allowed the department of player safety to suspend him more than seven games and waived that chance.

 

 

Late in the first period, Kassian and Cernak were tangled up on the ice after being knocked over by Edmonton’s Josh Archibald. Kassian looked directly at Cernak before kicking him and getting up.

The league said it agreed with Kassian that he was trying to disentangle himself but said the kick was in no way justified. The Oilers argued Kassian’s kick was not forceful, but the league contends that it’s different from a hit, and any intentional or careless kicking with a skate blade won’t be tolerated.

As the Oilers’ Zack Kassian awaits his fate from the department of player safety, let’s look at how his kick to the chest of Tampa Bay’s Erik Cernak stacks up against ones of the past. 0:55

Kassian will forfeit $166,463 US as a result of the suspension because he’s a repeat offender. This is his fourth career suspension in 518 regular season games.

He was also suspended two games last month for his role in an altercation with Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk.

Kassian will be eligible to return Feb. 29 against Winnipeg.

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OHL officially moves back target start date – SooToday

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Ontario Hockey League officials were optimistic that starting regular season action in early-December was a possibility.

In August, the league announced plans to begin regular season play on Dec. 1 and announced in mid-September hopes that training camps would open on Nov. 15.

With a spike in COVID-19 cases across the province this fall and the closure of the border between Canada and the United States extended at least until Nov. 21, the league has pushed back its potential start date well into the new year.

In a release issued Thursday, the league has announced a start date of Feb. 4 with players reporting to training camo on Jan. 22 and camps opening the following day.

With European and American players expected to follow the two-week quarantine period, those players will be reporting by Jan. 8.

The dates were confirmed in a meeting with OHL general managers on Wednesday.

“Now you can start to think about how training camp might shape out,” Greyhounds general manager Kyle Raftis said. “It’s tough on everybody, but especially with players especially, they like to ramp up their training in a certain way to get to camp. It’s tough when you’re not sure. Mentally, in a regular year, are you in July right now or June just in terms of how you would pace out your training. You don’t want to burn guys out. It will help on that side of it.”

“Hopefully we can be an asset in terms of helping their development while they’re still doing their own workouts and training on the ice at home because it’s been a long time since we’ve all been on the ice together,” Raftis added. “Everybody is in the same boat, so we have to make the best of it.”

The playoff structure will also look very different as just eight teams will advance into playoff action in 2020-21 instead of the usual 16, meaning the top four teams in each conference will earn playoff spots.

As for the regular season schedule, the league is planning for 40 games and limited travel as much as possible.

In a release from the league, the plan will be for teams to play primarily against teams in their geographic region.

Details on team alignment are expected to be announced when the league releases its schedule.

The closure of the border between Canada and the United States as well as the possibility of fans attending games were not addressed in the league release and were reportedly not discussed at Thursday’s meeting of general managers.

The OHL isn’t the first Canadian Hockey League member league to push back starting until 2021.

Earlier this month, the Western Hockey League announced plans to open regular season action on Jan. 8 in what commissioner Ron Robison called a firm date.

In a Zoom meeting with reporters shortly after the announcement, Robison said the regular season would run until May 2, which would allow the league to play a schedule of up to 50 games.

“The number of games will be determined over the next number of weeks,” Robison said at the time.

Robison said the approach to calling Jan. 8 a hard date was “to create some certainty around the start of the season.”

“We had announced already two tentative target dates,” Robison added. “This is not a tentative date. This is a firm date.”

As for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, regular season action is underway, but there have been some bumps in the road along the way.

The QMJHL regular season began on Oct. 2 with teams playing only opponents within their six-team division.

On Oct. 14, the league announced that teams in the two Quebec-based divisions had their games postponed until at least Oct. 28 as a number of teams were in provincial red zones. The Maritimes Division has continued to play since then.

Some teams are returning to play this weekend after the two-week pause.

Three teams in the league have had cases since the start of the regular season, though training camps and exhibition games were played in September without issue.

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Arians: Brown 'looks fantastic' in 1st day at Bucs' facility – theScore

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians liked what he saw from Antonio Brown during the recently signed wide receiver’s first workout with his new team.

“He looks fantastic. I think we had really good conversations today, he and I,” Arians said Wednesday, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN. “He was in the meetings and everything. And he’s working with (Buccaneers conditioning coach) Anthony Piroli and the strength staff. He looks in great shape. Yeah, ready to go next week.”

Brown appeared at the Buccaneers’ facility for the first time Wednesday. He underwent six days of COVID-19 testing this past week after agreeing to a one-year deal with the team Friday.

The 32-year-old won’t be making his debut with Tampa Bay on Monday against the New York Giants, as he’s suspended until the end of Week 8. The Buccaneers host the New Orleans Saints in Week 9.

Arians was also asked if he thinks Brown will follow the NFL’s coronavirus protocols this season.

“He wants to play, and if you want to play, you’ve got to do it,” he said, according to The Athletic’s Greg Auman.

Arians, who indicated during the offseason that Brown wasn’t a fit in his team’s locker room, recently said the wideout has “matured.”

Brown appeared in just one game and was cut twice last season, with the Raiders and New England Patriots jettisoning him due to off-field issues.

The seven-time Pro Bowler has racked up 841 receptions for 11,263 yards while scoring 75 touchdowns over 10 NFL seasons.

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Bowness agrees to two-year contract to return as Stars coach – NHL.com

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Rick Bowness agreed to a two-year contract to return as coach of the Dallas Stars on Thursday.

“(General manager) Jim [Nill] was very easy to work with. He wanted me back, I wanted to come back,” Bowness said. “It wasn’t that difficult a decision, so the negotiations were very easy. Jim and (Stars owner) Tom [Gaglardi] were great. The term is not a big issue. I still love the game, I still have lots of energy and passion for the game, and that’s going to continue for a while longer. We’re not ready to go yet.

“That time in Edmonton (the Western Conference hub city for the postseason) was unlike any experience I have ever had in hockey, and it brought us together as a staff and as a team. We had a great run to the Stanley Cup Final, but we have some unfinished business left and we’re looking forward to the opportunity to build on what we started.

Bowness was promoted after Jim Montgomery was fired Dec. 10, 2019, for unprofessional conduct. The Stars were 20-13-5 in 38 games under Bowness and advanced to the Cup Final, when they lost the best-of-7 series to the Tampa Bay Lightning in six games.

“Rick now has his fingerprints on the team, he knows how he wants to play a certain way, he knows the adjustments he can make, and the players understand that now,” Nill said. “I just think, as we move forward here, there’s still going to be a lot of uncertainty. And that’s one thing we talked about in the bubble, that every day there’s going to be stuff thrown at us, we can’t dwell on it, we can’t panic on it, we just roll with the punches.

“We face some uncertainty moving forward here. When do we start? How long’s the season? What’s the format going to be? How many games are you playing in a week? So knowing you have somebody in charge, the players know he’s in charge, they respect him, he respects them, he knows what buttons to push, I think that’s very important.”

Bowness was hired as a Stars assistant June 22, 2018, after five seasons as associate coach of the Lightning. The 65-year-old is 143-302-8 with 48 ties as an NHL coach for the Winnipeg Jets (1988-89), Boston Bruins (1991-92), Ottawa Senators (1992-96), New York Islanders (1996-98), Phoenix Coyotes (2003-04) and Stars.

“Probably around January we started to feel more comfortable and I thought, ‘I want to keep doing this,”’ Bowness said. “But it goes to another level in the playoffs, and once the playoffs started there was no doubt in my mind I wanted to keep doing this. There came a point where I didn’t want someone else to come in here and take this seat over. This is a tough league to win in, as you know. I couldn’t give you an exact date, but sometime around January, I wasn’t going to let this team go. Again, it took another level once we got to the playoffs. I’m just thrilled for the opportunity.”

Bowness, who has been an NHL coach for five decades, played 173 NHL games in six seasons from 1975-81 with the Atlanta Flames, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Jets.

“Rick knows how to balance things,” Nill said. “He’s got the passion, he’s willing to call a player out, he’s willing to talk to me about some situation, but they’re healthy discussions and there’s a respect there. Anyone who knows Rick Bowness, they know the respect. It’s communication with respect, and he’s got that through the organization. That goes with experience, that goes with who he is, the person on and off the ice, his family life, those things, they just don’t happen. that’s what’s made him successful.”

NHL.com staff writer Tracey Myers contributed to this report

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