Montreal Canadiens players support Kassian as he begins substance abuse program

Montreal Canadiens players support Kassian as he begins substance abuse program

Main pic: (Then) Vancouver Canucks winger Zack Kassian attends a news conference in Vancouver, B.C. Monday April 27, 2015. Photo credit: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward.

BROSSARD, Que. — Montreal Canadiens players are pulling for teammate Zack Kassian, who has entered stage two of the league’s substance abuse and behavioural health program.

“I sent him a text and he responded,” defenceman P.K. Subban said Tuesday. “I just told him he has all the support of the guys here.

“My first thought was that you just want to make sure he’s OK, regardless of what’s happening in the situation. We know life can change in a second. We’re happy that he’s getting the right treatment that he needs right now.”

Kassian was placed in the joint NHL-NHL Players’ Association program after he was involved in a single-vehicle accident early Sunday morning. The 24-year-old suffered a broken nose and broken left foot, while two women in the vehicle also suffered non-life threatening injuries when the truck they were in hit a tree.

Police said Kassian was not the driver.

Program doctors put players in stage two, which comes with a suspension without pay, when they feel they have violated conditions of stage one, which involves treatment, counselling and after care.

Details of the player’s problems are kept confidential.

“I don’t know the problem,” said Subban. “We just want to see him back and better quickly, but my Number One thought is that he’s OK.”

Goalie Carey Price added: “The best thing we can do is support him. I’ve known a few individuals who have had to go through this sort of program and it’s not an easy thing.”

Before the suspension, general manager Marc Bergevin reacted with anger, saying Kassian had shown a “lack of character.” He said he had spoken “very clearly” to Kassian after he was acquired in an off-season trade with Vancouver about off-ice behaviour.

“Marc Bergevin said it, I’m not going to add anything,” said coach Michel Therrien.

Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press

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