OTTAWA — Just as advertised, there’s much more to the newest Ottawa Senators heavyweight than his brawn and willingness to take on all-comers.
Matt Kassian had barely completed his first skate with his new team before he was suggesting he needed a little more time to assess to the surprise appointment of Pope Francis of Argentina.
“I guess it was somewhat of a surprise, but give me a couple of days to read up on him and I’ll get back to you with what I think,” quipped the Senators new 6-5, 232-pound lethal weapon.
Seconds later, Kassian was trying to put aside what he perceived as a snub when he arrived in Ottawa late Wednesday night.
“I was kind of expecting Mr. Harper to be there,” Kassian said, tongue fully in cheek.
“But my flight was delayed and I guess that’s why he wasn’t there.”
Kassian, as his reputation suggests, is many things.
One thing he is not is dull.
He is also never at a loss for words.
And the Senators hope to unleash the star of hockeyfights.com, dropyourgloves.com and youtube Saturday afternoon in Buffalo when the Senators try to snap a run of back-to-back shootout losses.
Kassian, acquired from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick, fully knows he wasn’t brought in for any reason other than to take the pressure off the likes of resident tough guys Chris Neil and Zack Smith while making sure the team’s lightweights don’t have to play a role they’re not suited for.
He has to fill the roles of the departed Matt Carkner and Zenon Konopka, and on Wednesday Kassian said he’ll take care of it.
“I’m not here to play pattycakes,” said the 26-year-old veteran of 28 games, another 276 in the minors and too many pugilistic opponents to even begin to count.
“This isn’t soccer or basketball.
“I know my role. It’s not like I am going to step out of my game and try and do something ludicrous.
“When you talk at this stage of your career, you know what is expected of you and you have to play your role in the present.
“People say they’re lacking that role (of enforcer) and the reason I’m here is to bring that element. I want to make everyone on the ice grow a bit.
“Guys know who can throw them and I would say I can stand in with anyone in this league. I have proven I can stand in there with the guys at the top.”
Kassian is not talking out of turn here.
In 24 games last season with the Wild, his fights-to-goals ratio was 7:2, including bouts with the likes of George Parros, Paul Bissonette and seemingly longtime favourite combatant Darcy Hordichuk.
In the American Hockey League (2008-11) with the Houston Aeros, Kassian wracked up 411 penalty minutes and he didn’t accumulate them two at a time with infractions like tripping.
Senators head coach Paul MacLean wants to see Kassian in action sooner than later.
“I thought he got up and down the rink fine,” said MacLean.
“We will take another day and evaluate and it’s possible we would put him in there (Saturday in Buffalo).
“That (toughness) element is something you need to have. Our guys need to be comfortable out there, especially on the road.”
Kassian will not see major minutes. Just the same, fans and the opposition will be well aware every time he comes over the boards.
“I was never the superstar,” said Kassian of growing up in Edmonton. “And I was never expected to be that.
“I always had to work for everything I got and I was raised to be a workhorse.”
Category: News & Views