Kassian reinstated from NHL substance abuse program (Update: Waived)

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From the NHL:

The National Hockey League Players’ Association and the National Hockey League announced today that forward Zack Kassian of the Montreal Canadiens has been returned to available status and has entered the follow-up care phase of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

Kassian’s care continues to be administered pursuant to the NHL/NHLPA SABH Program.

Kassian, 24, was placed in Stage Two of the SABH program on Oct. 5, and was suspended without pay until clearance. This came just days after he was involved in an early morning car accident in Montreal, in which Kassian was a passenger in a SUV driven by a 20-year-old female.

Montreal police later confirmed that while speed didn’t play a factor in the collision, alcohol may have.

On Oct. 7, Vancouver GM Jim Benning — who traded Kassian to Montreal in exchange for Brandon Prust this summer — confirmed that Kassian went through Stage One of the SABH while with the Canucks.

Kassian has yet to appear in a regular-season contest with the Habs, and it remains to be seen how the team handles this situation moving forward.

Currently, the club is pretty thin at Kassian’s natural right wing position — Brendan Gallagher is out with a broken hand, and the Alex Semin experiment failed.

As a result, waiver claim Paul Byron has been moved up to first-line duty with Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec, while Dale Weise is manning the second line next to Lars Eller and Alex Galchenyuk.

Kassian, who did score a career-high 14 goals and 29 points with Vancouver during the ’13-14 campaign, could slot into the lineup and possibly provide a scoring punch.

But it remains to be seen when — or, if — Kassian will get back into GM Marc Bergevin’s good graces.

“We are professionals and we have to behave like professionals,” Bergevin said following Kassian’s accident, per the Gazette. “You have to be respectful and you’re lucky to be a hockey player.

“I’m a firm believer in character and that’s really a lack of character and judgment on his part.”

Update: Didn’t take long for Montreal to make a decision, as TSN’s Bob McKenzie reports the club has put Kassian on waivers.