Bulls, Majors applaud OHL suspension

PAUL SVOBODA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:41 PM ET

BELLEVILLE, Ont. -- The two OHL coaches who'll go head-to-head Wednesday night at Yardmen Arena can agree on at least one thing.

Belleville Bulls GM-coach George Burnett and his Mississauga St. Michael's Majors counterpart, Dave Cameron, say OHL commissioner Dave Branch got it right when he slapped Windsor Spitfires forward Zack Kassian with a 20-game suspension for a high hit on Barrie Colts forward Matt Kennedy during a game in Windsor.

Kennedy, 20, suffered the fifth concussion of his junior career plus sustained cuts to his right cheek and the back of his head when Kassian, 19, delivered an open-ice hit when the Colts forward was not in possession of the puck in the neutral zone.

Late last week, the league handed down its verdict.

Was 20 games the correct amount?

"Absolutely," said Burnett between team workouts Monday morning at Yardmen Arena. "Our league has been very clear on what is acceptable and what's not. I've watched the replay of the hit a couple of times — at full speed — and the bottom line is you have a player without the puck in a vulnerable position.

"Luckily he (Kennedy) wasn't hurt seriously. He (Kassian) has been involved in a couple of other incidents."

Cameron, speaking on the phone from his Hershey Centre office, said he guessed before Branch's announcement that Kassian would get between 15 and 20 games for the hit.

"That's the ballpark I'd have put it in," he said. "The big factor I think was how bad Kennedy got hurt. If it was a long-term injury, I think the suspension might've been for the rest of the season.

"Our league shouldn't be surprised by the suspension. Dave has been trying to take these kinds of hits out of the league."

That said, Cameron said the hit may not have been as vicious as it first appeared on replay.

"I don't think he (Kassian) left his feet," said Cameron. "But it looks like it on the video."

Burnett isn't convinced the suspension should've been longer.

"Not really," he said. "It was fairly reviewed. It wasn't a hockey play and this is a top player (Kassian) whose team will miss him.

"They need to be duly punished. I'm sure the message is very clear."


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