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Canadiens' Kassian broke nose, foot in car accident

by Arpon Basu

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens right wing Zack Kassian sustained a fractured nose and fractured left foot in a car accident early Sunday morning, general manager Marc Bergevin said Monday.

Kassian, 24, was hospitalized Sunday after the truck he was a passenger in crashed into a tree in a residential Montreal neighborhood at approximately 6:30 a.m., according to Montreal police.

Though Bergevin had not spoken to Kassian and did not have all the details of the incident, he expressed the Canadiens disappointment in Kassian's actions, particularly the time of day the incident took place.

"I'm a firm believer in character," Bergevin said, "and that's a lack of character and judgment on his part."

The National Hockey League Players’ Association and NHL later Monday announced that Kassian has been placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA. Kassian will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.

Bergevin traded forward Brandon Prust to the Vancouver Canucks for Kassian and a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft on July 1. It was the second time Kassian, the No. 13 pick in the 2009 draft by the Buffalo Sabres, was traded.

"There's a reason a player like that is available, we can agree on that," Bergevin said. "You take a risk, but you always want to calculate your risk. Zack Kassian didn't arrive here with an eight-year contract in his pocket, right? So you take a risk and you give the kid a chance.

"Again, I don't want to put him on trial here because there are things that haven't come out yet, but eventually you become responsible for your actions. So we'll see what happens and we'll make the right decisions for the organization."

Bergevin was asked if this could serve as a wake-up call for Kassian and his career.

"I hope so," Bergevin said. "I think he's already had some wake-up calls. I don't know how many wake-up calls you get."

The Canadiens have not had an off-ice incident like this since Bergevin and coach Michel Therrien came on board in the summer of 2012, and it just so happens to come a few weeks after Max Pacioretty was named captain.

When the media entered the Canadiens dressing room Monday, Pacioretty was standing on a riser at his locker, waiting to speak on behalf of the team on the incident.

"He's a guy that I've only known for a couple of weeks and who I've really grown to like since he's been here," said Pacioretty, who sits next to Kassian in the dressing room. "Obviously it's a really big mistake on his part, but I think this is a guy that doesn't want this to define his character. I can't tell the future, and this is a big mistake on his part, but he's lucky to walk away and not be too badly hurt."

The Canadiens have a talk with all of their players at training camp every year to remind them of the scrutiny they are under in a hockey-mad city.

"When you put on that jersey, when you are able to call yourself a Montreal Canadien, you have a certain set of responsibilities and a tradition to uphold," alternate captain Brendan Gallagher said. "It's made very clear at the beginning of camp the way we have behave."

Bergevin, asked if he had a specific talk with Kassian about his conduct away from the rink in Montreal, said he did.

"[I was] very clear," he said.

The Canadiens announced Monday goaltender Dustin Tokarski and defenseman Mark Barberio were placed on waivers for the purpose of being assigned to St. John's of the American Hockey League. Forwards Charles Hudon and Sven Andrighetto also were assigned to St. John's.

Tokarski took over for injured Carey Price in the 2014 Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers, leapfrogging backup Peter Budaj on the depth chart before winning the job last year in training camp.

Mike Condon did the same thing to Tokarski at camp this year, stopping all 38 shots he faced in two preseason games; Tokarski allowed eight goals on 37 shots. This came after Tokarski had a poor finish to last season, allowing three goals or more in six of his final eight starts.

"Mike Condon outplayed him," Bergevin said. "Did Dustin look shaky to me in camp? Yes. Can he get it back? For sure.

"If he'd had a very good camp he would not have been in the situation he finds himself in today. But he still had difficulties, so when looked at as a whole you wonder if this is a pattern we're seeing."

The Canadiens have 24 players remaining in camp, including Kassian, which is one above the 23-man limit they must reach before the NHL roster deadline at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. The only player in camp who would not require waivers to be sent to the AHL is forward Jacob De La Rose.

"He's on our team as we speak right now," Bergevin said of De La Rose.

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