Habs GM Bergevin says Kassian showed ‘lack of character’ in vehicle crash

BROSSARD, Que. — Forward Zack Kassian showed a “lack of character” when he was involved in an early morning motor vehicle accident that left him with two broken bones, Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Monday.

Kassian broke his nose and left foot in the crash that occurred around 6:30 a.m. ET Sunday in Montreal. Two women with him in the vehicle also suffered non-life threatening injuries.

It was unclear how long Kassian will be out of the lineup, but he will miss the team’s regular season opener on Wednesday night in Toronto.

“I don’t have all the information, but it’s disappointing to say the least,” said Bergevin. “I addressed the whole team this morning.

“We are professional and we have to behave like professionals. 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 judgement on his part.”

Bergevin was told that Kassian was not driving the vehicle when it went off a road and crashed into a tree.

The Canadiens had played a pre-season game Saturday night in Ottawa and had no practice scheduled on Sunday. No charges were laid against the player.

Bergevin hopes it will serve as a wake up call for the 24-year-old, who was acquired in the off-season from Vancouver in exchange for veteran Brandon Prust.

He had yet to decide whether to put Kassian on the injured list or to suspend him. He hadn’t yet spoken to the player and was still gathering details of the incident.

“I’m looking at all my options right now,” he said.

Forward Dale Weise, who played with Kassian in Vancouver, had talked to him and was just happy to see that no one was badly hurt.

“That’s the main concern here: no one in the car was seriously injured,” said Weise. “I don’t think we should be worrying about who did what wrong.”

It was a first controversy for new Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty.

“Obviously it’s a big mistake on his part, but he’s lucky to walk away and not be too badly hurt,” said Pacioretty. “We have our first game coming up in two days so obviously it’s a very important matter.

“We’re happy he’s OK but we have to stay focused on our game as well.”

Kassian had not had a particularly good camp but was a lock to start the season in Montreal. His accident may have spared left winger Jacob de la Rose from being cut, however.

The Canadiens assigned Sven Andrighetto and Charles Hudon to St. John’s of the AHL and placed goalie Dustin Tokarski and defenceman Mark Barberio on waivers.

Tokarski, who played brilliantly for an injured Carey Price in the 2014 playoffs, had a weak camp and lost his job to 25-year-old rookie Michael Condon.

“Condon played very well and deserved a job here,” said Bergevin. “With goalies, it’s more difficult.

“If you have no confidence it’s almost impossible to play. Dustin looked shaky in camp. Can he get it back? For sure. He’s on waivers. I don’t know if he’ll clear or not.”

The Canadiens kept eight defencemen, including prospects Jarred Tinordi and Greg Pateryn who were battling for jobs.

The Canadiens announced on Sunday that veteran winger Tomas Fleischmann, in camp on a tryout, signed a one-year deal, reportedly at a bargain US$750,000.

“We chose Montreal first,” said Fleischmann. “The reason was it’s a good team, good players and a good chance to win the Stanley Cup.”

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press