Poignant piece here from the Edmonton Sun’s Terry Jones on Zack Kassian, the troubled former first-round pick that — after spending several months in the NHL’s Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health program — is now trying to work his way back into the league, currently plying his trade with the Oilers’ AHL affiliate in Bakersfield.
Some of the more intriguing parts of the article:
— Kassian admitted he’s an alcoholic and has stopped drinking, period. “In no sense am I cured or fixed,” he said. “But I have a good foundation to build off going forward.”
— At 24, he realizes this is probably his final kick at the can. Kassian’s now with his fourth franchise (drafted by Buffalo, traded to Vancouver, traded to Montreal, traded to Edmonton).
“I’m really looking to turn the corner. The one thing I believe throughout all this is that it has really built my character.
“It’s something that I had to go through to get it. Finally. Sadly. But I’m very confident that I do have a grasp on it and I am moving forward.”
Kassian says he absolutely, completely, totally, 100% understands this is it for him.
“Most definitely this is my last chance,” he said.
— He’s been a fairly noteworthy contributor for Bakersfield in what, admittedly, is a pretty small sample size. He fired four shots on goal in his team debut, then scored a goal in his second outing.
— Kassian clearly has an eye on an NHL return in the near future. “They have a lot of skill and talent up there,” he said, referencing all the quality young players on the Oilers roster. “I’m looking to bring some sandpaper.”