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Kassian vows to get ‘into even better shape’ while suspended

Sep 25, 2013, 1:31 PM EDT

zackkassiangetty Getty Images

A day after his fitness received only a lukewarm endorsement from head coach John Tortorella, Canucks forward Zack Kassian was vowing to take advantage of the extra training time — courtesy an eight-game suspension for breaking Sam Gagner‘s jaw — that he’ll be afforded the next few weeks.

“I need to make sure I stay on top of things,” Kassian said today, per The Province. “If you’re looking for a positive, it’s a time to get into even better shape than I was. I have to look forward to something and it’s getting into even better shape.”

Yesterday, Tortorella referred to Kassian’s fitness as merely “OK,” adding that the suspension “gives us a chance to really nail him as far as conditioning. That’s one plus. And he will get nailed.”

The Canucks are hoping for big things from Kassian in 2013-14. The 22-year-old winger is expected to get the opportunity to skate with the Sedin twins on Vancouver’s first line.

Before he was suspended, however, Kassian’s performance in two preseason contests failed to draw a ton of praise.

  1. mpops86 - Sep 25, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Kassian is 22 and people are still trying to turn him in to Milan Lucic. Lucic scored more points as a 19 year old rookie than 22 year old Kassian has over three seasons; his story doesn’t end well in the NHL.

    • davebabychreturns - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:52 PM

      Lucic’s story is pretty much one of a kind, in a little over four years he went from not being good enough for the WHL to exploding as an NHL power forward as a teenager.

      Judging Kassian a failure because his game did not transition the same way is beyond ridiculous. Lots of guys from Kassian’s draft year are only just proving themselves at the NHL level now (Kadri in the last year, Brayden Schenn is a legit NHL player now but isn’t producing like a top five pick yet, guys like Chris Kreider and Louis Leblanc and Jordan Caron and Kyle Palmieri and Jordan Schroeder are mostly behind Kassian).

      If Kassian hasn’t taken a big step forward two years from now it’s reasonable to say he’s approaching bust territory but ragging on the kid right now is completely premature.

  2. Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:05 PM

    Maybe work on your skating so when you stop at the side boards you aren’t recklessly swinging your stick at other people’s faces.

    • pxland - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:15 PM

      Looking at that play again I’ve got half a mind to believe the stick swing was intentional. Not saying he was going for the face, but the maneuver was somewhat odd.

      • Lupy Nazty Philthy - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:48 PM

        It was definitely one of those “accidentally on purpose” type moves. I doubt he intended to make Sam Gagner’s face look like Evgeny Malkin’s, but he meant to make contact with Gagner in some way by swinging his stick wildly like that.

      • davebabychreturns - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:55 PM

        I think he knew he was missing the hit as it developed and tried to reach back and catch a piece of Gagner with his arm, stick, whatever. Same way a lot of guys seem to panic when they’re missing a hit in open ice and leave a knee out to get some contact.

        It’s stupid and reckless and in this case it ended about as badly as possible.

        Hopefully the next time Kassian misses on a check he hits the boards hard with his shoulder and gets ready to skate back into the play.

  3. killacam42 - Sep 25, 2013 at 3:52 PM

    Power forwards take a long time to develop… Bertuzzi… he’s still young, patience.. it’s not like he’s costing a lot of money

  4. mpops86 - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:31 PM

    Long term project or not, he belongs nowhere near the Sedins right now. And power forwards don’t all take a long time to develop, Tom Wilson is already better in just about every facet of the game than Kassian is.

  5. blomfeld - Sep 25, 2013 at 4:39 PM

    “getting into even better shape” ? …

    In addition to his fitness, hopefully this freak spends some time working on his brain ! … talk about Return to the Planet of the Apes Part VII eh ? If this weirdo is supposed to ‘seriously’ be the future, then the problems here in Vancouver are much deeper than first reported.

  6. ikillchicken - Sep 25, 2013 at 5:39 PM

    “Before he was suspended, however, Kassian’s performance in two preseason contests failed to draw a ton of praise.”

    You’re basing this on what exactly? Kassian looked pretty good in the couple games he played. He didn’t look at all overwhelmed playing with the Sedins. He made good decisions with the puck and made a number of nice passes, had a few scoring chances and generally contributed. Kassain’s biggest challenge will continue to be maintaining consistency. (Sadly this seemed to get him stapled permanently to the 4th line under AV). But he’s already shown plenty of flashes of his ability to be an effective player in the top 6.

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