Kassian vows to get ‘into even better shape’ while suspended

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A day after his fitness received only a lukewarm endorsement from head coach John Tortorella, Canucks forward Zack Kassian was vowing to take advantage of the extra training time — courtesy an eight-game suspension for breaking Sam Gagner’s jaw — that he’ll be afforded the next few weeks.

“I need to make sure I stay on top of things,” Kassian said today, per The Province. “If you’re looking for a positive, it’s a time to get into even better shape than I was. I have to look forward to something and it’s getting into even better shape.”

Yesterday, Tortorella referred to Kassian’s fitness as merely “OK,” adding that the suspension “gives us a chance to really nail him as far as conditioning. That’s one plus. And he will get nailed.”

The Canucks are hoping for big things from Kassian in 2013-14. The 22-year-old winger is expected to get the opportunity to skate with the Sedin twins on Vancouver’s first line.

Before he was suspended, however, Kassian’s performance in two preseason contests failed to draw a ton of praise.