Jan 20, 2013; Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA; Edmonton Oilers left wing Ben Eager (55) during the second period against the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena. The Edmonton Oilers won 3-2 in a shootout. Mandatory Credit: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Oilers’ Ben Eager Issues Threat to Vancouver Canucks Skill Players


Saturday night’s game between the Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers had a profound effect on the Oilers.

In the first period, Canucks winger Dale Weise delivered to a hit to the head of Oilers forward Taylor Hall. Weise has assessed a minor penalty on the play and Hall suffered no injury on the play.

Late in the second period, Canucks winger Zack Kassian was assessed a double-minor for high sticking Oilers centre Sam Gagner. Kassian was attempting to throw a hit on the play, but lost his footing and ended up slashing Gagner right across the face as he barreled into the boards.

Gagner left the game and has been diagnosed with a broken jaw. He will undergo surgery on Tuesday and is expected to miss the next several weeks. The Oilers are already without Ryan Nugent-Hopkins until early November.

Oilers head coach Dallas Eakins was none too pleased about the Kassian hit. He described it to Sportsnet’s Mark Spector as “a disturbing play by a disturbing player.”

Same goes for general manager (and former Canucks employee) Craig MacTavish. In light of the transgressions,  he claimed ‘super heavyweight’ Steve MacIntyre off waivers from the Pittsburgh Penguins.

MacIntyre is best known for his knockout of fellow enforcer Raitis Ivanans. He is also famous for his lack of food speed and skating ability, but MacTavish didn’t seem concerned saying, “[MacIntyre] is what he is.”

MacTavish firmly believes the Kassian high stick on Gagner would not have occurred if they had a heavyweight like MacIntyre in the lineup on Saturday.

“Would (Kassian) not have done it had we had a heavyweight?,” MacTavish told Sportsnet.ca. “It was a little bit of a spontaneous act. I don’t know that he wouldn’t have done it had we had, you know, a Colton Orr in the lineup.

Kassian brushed off the MacIntyre acquisition when asked about it by the media.

His words are reminiscent of what Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa said about then-Chicago Blackhawks enforcer John Scott two years ago.

“When a guy 6-8 challenges you that can’t skate? Usually you say no and you go around him and score,” Bieksa said at the time. “That’s what usually you do.”

Ben Eager, who is also (shockingly) upset about the hits, had some fighting words—threatening to target the Canucks skilled players this upcoming season.

He is not the first Oilers player to issue a threat to the Canucks as Derek Blasutti points out on Twitter:

The hit being referenced is this one on  defenceman Keith Ballard:

Circle it on your calendars. The Canucks and Oilers meet next on October 5 at Rogers Arena for the Canucks home opener.

Tags: Dale Weise Vancouver Canucks Zack Kassian