“My time in Vancouver, deep down I feel I could have given more and I think they knew that.”
If there was one quote that left Canucks fans shaking their heads yesterday, that was probably it. Zack Kassian admitted that he didn’t give it 100 percent.
It’s been suggested that Canucks management should take much of the blame for Kassian’s failure to develop into an impact player, on a team that desperately needed him to be one. But, ultimately, it’s up to the player to fulfill his own potential.
Now a member of the Montreal Canadiens, the 24-year-old is vowing to apply the lessons he learned in both Buffalo, which drafted him 13th overall in 2009, and Vancouver, which traded Cody Hodgson to get him in 2012.
“It’s a tough league. As you grow older, you mature,” Kassian said Thursday.
“I really feel like Montreal’s a great fit for me. I’m ready to do everything to help the team win. I’m excited to get there. At the end of the day, nobody wants to get traded two times. But it’s a learning curve.”
For the record, Kassian says his back is fine: “Everything’s good, very healthy.”
He also rejected the notion that he’s been miscast as a big, tough power forward: “I can play physical, I can grind it, I like the cycle game. But at the same time, I like to make plays. I like to score goals. I think when I’m at my best, I can kind of do both.”
The Canadiens did not take a huge gamble on Kassian. They gave up popular forward Brandon Prust, but he’s 31 and only a year away from unrestricted free agency. Kassian is the one with the upside. And besides, the Canucks threw in a fifth-round draft pick.
“There’s a reason why players are available, but I’ve talked to the young man and we’ve done our homework,” Habs GM Marc Bergevin said. “We believe that he has potential.”
Of course, that’s what they said in Buffalo and Vancouver.
We’ll see what happens in Montreal.
It may be Kassian’s last chance.