'He messed with the wrong guy': Kassian sends warning to Tkachuk ahead of rematch

EDMONTON — It doesn't appear Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian is ready to drop his feud with Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk.

Kassian spoke to reporters Tuesday, a day after the NHL handed him a two-game ban for grabbing Tkachuk by the collar, throwing him to the ice and punching him several times while the Flames forward turtled to fend off the blows.

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The incident took place after Tkachuk lined up Kassian for a pair of big hits in Calgary's 4-3 win over the Oilers on Saturday. Tkachuk's refusal to fight Kassian after targeting him with a pair of hard checks was widely debated by fans and commentators.

"You play with fire, eventually you're going to get burned," Kassian said.

Kassian's suspension will end just before the rematch of the Battle of Alberta on Jan. 29 in Edmonton, and Kassian warned Tkachuk that he has a "great memory."

"He messed with the wrong guy," Kassian said. "I don't think he realizes we're in the same division."

Kassian said the hits Tkachuk laid out are part of the game, though he did call them "predatorial" even if they were clean. But he said Tkachuk failed to back up his physical play when challenged.

"I'm a big boy, I love big-boy hockey," Kassian said. "But if you play big-boy hockey, you're going to have to answer the bell every once in a while."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2020.

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