There has been an incredible amount of discussion following the Battle of Alberta over the weekend and now former stars of the National Hockey League are speaking out and sharing their thoughts as well.
For those of you who weren't around for this weekend's matchup between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers, all of the controversy pretty much stems from an incident that took place between Edmonton Oilers enforcer Zack Kassian and Calgary Flames agitator Matthew Tkachuk. Kassian was victimized by several punishing hits from Tkachuk during the course of the game, thunderous body checks behind the net while Kassian was carrying the puck, and eventually frustration just simply boiled over for Kassian. The Oilers enforcer snapped on Tkachuk after one of those hits and began to ragdoll him around the ice, all the while throwing heavy haymakers at Tkachuk's head. It was enough to leave a sizeable bruise on Tkachuk's head and has now resulted in a hearing today for Kassian that will likely lead to him being suspended.
There's no question that Kassian's attack on Tkachuk crossed the line given that Tkachuk himself never gave any indication that he was willing to engage in a fight. In spite of that Kassian dropped heavy blow after heavy blow on his head and the reality is that, regardless of the infraction committed by the opposing player, you simply can not allow players to be assaulted in such a manner when they are not defending themselves. There are many however who feel the wrong decision is being made by the Department of Player Safety and by the man at the head of that department, for NHL player George Paros.
Former NHL player Scottie Upshall published the following message on social media:
From this angle, it’s clear as day [Matthew 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!)
Upshall is not alone in chis criticism of the decision to only give Kassian a hearing for this matter either, NHL legend Teemu Selanne responded to Upshall on social media and effectively endorsed his comments:
And Kassian will face NHL hearing for protecting himself from this 2 dangerous hits... George Paros not right...
Do you agree with these former players? Or do you feel the NHL has made the right call here? You can watch a replay of the incident below and come to your own conclusions.