Oilers forward Zack Kassian makes his return to Montreal for the first time since being traded in late December in exchange for Ben Scrivens. Kassian describes his time in Montreal as a turning point in his career despite never having suited up in a regular season game for the team.
“I never really sat down and thought about repercussions, what I was doing or who I was affecting or how it was affecting my career,” he said after practice at the Bell Centre on Friday. “That accident really was an eyeopener for me. At the time obviously it was very tough to handle. I embarrassed my family, my friends and the organization. But when something like that happens you really have to look at yourself in the mirror.”
The accident Kassian speaks of was an early-morning vehicle accident where he was a passenger in which he broke his nose and foot. He entered Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA shortly afterwards.
“I felt like that was my rock bottom. Sometimes they talk about that, you have to hit a rock bottom to really grasp the concept of what you’re doing. I felt like that was my rock bottom and I didn’t want to go back there.”
Kassian has used that feeling of rock bottom to help guide himself and make the right choices but hasn't let it change who he is.
“I’m still the same person. I know what’s at stake and I know what I have and I have to stay on top of it. But I’m still the same guy in the room, the same guy on the ice. It’s just me growing up.”