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Kassian thankful for second chance with Oilers

No hard feelings as he prepares to play Canadiens

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA - Given his history, Zack Kassian knew it was going to be "one strike and you're out" with the Montreal Canadiens. 

He struck out. 

But the 25-year-old forward said he's learned from his mistakes. He's thankful for a chance at redemption with the Edmonton Oilers and is comfortable with the reality this is likely his last chance in the NHL. 

Kassian broke his nose and his left foot when the vehicle in which he was a passenger hit a tree in an early-morning car crash in Montreal on the eve of the regular season. He was suspended and placed in Stage 2 of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and the NHLPA. 

Kassian said Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin made his position clear after acquiring Kassian and a fifth-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for forward Brandon Prust on July 1, 2015. 

Asked if Bergevin told him it was "one strike and you're out" Kassian replied: "Yes. Me and Marc had a great conversation in the summer. That was basically what he said. Sadly, I screwed up but I'll take it on the chin. If I could go back, I'd go back. 

"I think it has really made the person I am today from that mistake. I'm just grateful for the opportunity the Edmonton Oilers gave me and I want to thank Marc, obviously for getting me out of Montreal. He could have done a lot of other options. I have no hard feelings. If anything, it's all on me." 

Video: EDM@OTT: Kassian slaps goal between Hammond's legs

Kassian completed Stage 2 of the NHL/NHLPA program in December and, after clearing waivers, was traded to the Oilers on Dec. 28 for goaltender Ben Scrivens.  

Kassian, a first-round pick (No. 13) by the Buffalo Sabres in 2009, has a goal, two assists and 18 penalty minutes in seven games with the Oilers. 

The 6-foot-3, 217-pound forward gives the skilled Oilers forwards a burly complement. 

He is treating his opportunity with the Oilers as his last chance in the NHL. 

"Yeah, most definitely. That's no secret," he said. "I've obviously run out of lives here. I'm fine with that. The past is the past. I'm happy to be here. I'm really going to take advantage of it." 

The Oilers play the Canadiens on Saturday at the Bell Centre. 

Kassian said he realizes he left Bergevin with no choice but to do what he did. 

"When a GM sits you down and says, 'You're going to get one chance with me,' he's going to stick to his word," he said. "He's a man of his word. I respect Marc. That's the way it was. 

"Sadly, that was the situation I had to be put in to learn from. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to get back to the NHL. I just want to kind of put my past behind me and show the new me." 

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