A noticeably clear-eyed, less jowly Zack Kassian exits the media blackout today, and we find out a little more about what he's facing and how he's doing.
I’m not second-guessing Marc Bergevin and his brain trust on this one, they know this player and the situation first-hand, their team dynamics, so they made the best decision they could by sending Zack away.
But I’m not as comfortable with this one as I was with the Dustin Tokarski or the Alex Semin moves, for example. Short of a miracle turnaround, both of those guys had proven that they couldn’t help the team, practically. It was time to move on.
For Zack though, possibly, finally focused after a second stint in rehab, healthy, dedicated to his career, I’m not certain at all. He’s still a tantalizing player, a rare combination of size, talent and aggressiveness. If only because of how healthy he looked.
I’m not an expert on the subject, but Zack’s lack of pride in his appearance, with the crazy unkempt hair, and the missing teeth, the way he carried himself and the outfits he wore compared to his teammates, that spoke to me of a guy who wasn’t very confident in himself. It's like he was taking a pre-emptive strike against anyone who’d dis him for his appearance, he was stating that he didn’t care himself.
I hope to see him make a change in that area, that he projects the appearance of a pro hockey player, and that it might have a spillover in other areas, psychologically.
Zack would have been a puzzle piece that would fit in so darn well for a playoff run. A right winger with talent, playmaking ability who can play on the Top 6, with huge size, who can, when the Adam McQuaids and the Marc Méthots start crosschecking, can crosscheck back. He’d fill so many roster needs for us, so much more than Alex Semin or Jonathan Drouin. We just spent a few days pining for Wayne Simmonds. Zack is as close as you can come to that type of player, potentially.