Oilers' Kassian offered in-person hearing for kicking Lightning's Cernak
Jeff Vinnick / National Hockey League / Getty

Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian was offered an in-person hearing for kicking Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak on Thursday, the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced Friday.

Kassian waived his right to the in-person hearing, and a phone hearing will be conducted Friday afternoon, the league added.

Offering an in-person hearing, even if it's declined by the player, gives the league the option to suspend the player for six or more games.

Kassian, who wasn't penalized for the incident, tried to explain himself postgame.

"He was holding my leg, it was reactionary," he told Sportsnet's Mark Spector. "I was just trying to get him off me, kick him off me. I was just trying to get my foot loose.

"If I kicked him hard, I think he would have flew back or the ref would have called a penalty," he continued. "I was trying to get off and pull my leg off. He was holding me and (teammate Josh Archibald) down. I didn't even know where the puck was (and) I was trying to pull my leg up and get up."

Meanwhile, Cernak gave his side of the story.

"I think he was a little bit mad," the Lightning blue-liner told reporters, including The Athletic's Joe Smith. "I asked him what was wrong with him, because that’s not the right play. (That's not) what to do on the ice. He didn’t say (anything). So I don’t know. Lucky it wasn’t higher."

Kassian was suspended two games in January for his role in an altercation with Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk.

The 29-year-old received his ban exactly a month prior to Thursday's incident after pummeling Tkachuk during their game on Jan. 11.

Oilers' Kassian offered in-person hearing for kicking Lightning's Cernak
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