With injuries again haunting the Wild, they currently have three Houston Aeros called up. Casey Wellman and Cody Almond we have already met, and know plenty about. The one player we have yet to be introduced to is Matt Kassian. In an effort to keep you informed about who exactly is out there, and what to expect of them, we offer this introduction to Kassian.
By all accounts, one of the hardest workers on the Aeros (sorry Tom), Kassian was a second round pick for the Wild in 2005, and this will be his first taste of NHL action. He has attended every training camp since being drafted, and this season was one of the last to be sent down. With the Wild facing off against Calgary tonight, and Kassian possessing a "Boogardian" set of skills, he certainly seems to be the right call-up at the right time.
Make the jump for some video and more from those who know him best.
Six foot five, 235lbs. In other words, a large human being. Kassian is the Aeros Enforcer, and from the videos available on Youtube, he is rather good at it. Whether or not he matches the fear and intimidation factor of Derek Boogaard has yet to be seen, but when it comes to the AHL, he certainly carries the respect of Boogey, and has the fight card to prove his worth.
In his own words, this is how he conducts his business:
Forgive some of the cheesy sounding explanations of hockey terms, but they need to explain things slowly in Houston. They have to get through to Ms. COnduct, after all. (Sorry H, I couldn't resist.)
Doubt his abilities? You shouldn't:
The video cuts out at an unfortunate time, but I think you get the drift of what was going down there. One final video, just to show he doesn't back down from anyone:
With his abilities now clear, let's check in with some of the people who know him best, the writers at The Third Intermission. While conducting thier "Get to Know Your 2010 Aeros" series, this is what John Royal has to say about Kassian:
Mike Yeo is going to like Matt Kassian, just like Constantine liked Kassian, just like his teammates like him, and just like those of in the press box like him. Kassian’s a friendly guy, but he’s a worker. He’s not the most graceful guy, nor the most gifted of skaters. But it’s doubtful that anyone on the team’s going to work harder. And if anybody starts messing around with one of his teammates, then they're going to have to deal with Kassian because while he's one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet, Kassian's not afraid or shy about playing the protector/enforcer when the need arises.
There is that hard work thing again. I really am sorry, Tom.
Also from John Royal, but this time writing for the Houston Press, Kassian was described this way:
The Aeros Humanitarian of the Year is Matt Kassian. Kassian's the team enforcer, something that he calls a job, and in his spare time, he's balancing his job with going to hospitals, animal shelters, and anyplace else the team may need him to go.
Kassian, like Mitch Love and John Scott (two of the team's previous enforcers over the past couple of seasons) is, off the rink, one of the nicest guys that you'll ever meet. He's got a good-natured joke for everybody, and he's one of those people who seems to recognize that being a professional athlete means that he gets to do more than just get paid to hit guys on the ice.
It must be an unwritten rule that enforcers have to be nice guys off the ice. Or perhaps it is an escape from the violence they are employed to conduct. Either way, you never hear stories about guys like Kassian telling a kid to get bent when they ask for an autograph.
All-in-all, Kassian sounds like just the right guy at just the right time. A game against a division rival with a history of some chippy games and injuries in the forward ranks make for a perfect chance for Kassian to get his cup of coffee. If perseverance and hard work (sorry Tom) got him this far, it is difficult to believe he is going to change his tune now that he is here.
Cheer for him loudly tonight fans. He may not stick around for long, but you'll enjoy the ride while he's here.