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Edmonton Oilers Zack Kassian set to return after injury in fight

Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian is expected to return to action Saturday night against the Calgary Flames at Rogers Place.

Kassian was injured in the Oilers second last pre-season game. His helmet came off during a fight with Vancouver’s Zack MacEwen on Oct. 7. The two men fell, with Kassian’s bare head hitting the ice.

“I feel good. I came to pretty quickly after the incident,” said Kassian after Friday’s practice. “I remember everything until I hit the ice. I remember falling and having an ‘uh-oh’ moment. Then I remember coming to with a lot of people around me.”

Read more: Zack Kassian hurt in fight as Edmonton Oilers win over Canucks

Kassian said he has watched the fight multiple times.

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“It’s definitely a scary incident. You lay unconscious on the ice for a few seconds, so it’s obviously tough to see,” said Kassian. “I’ve been in multiple fights before, even through my junior days, and that has never happened. It’s a fluke.”

Read more: Edmonton Oilers survive shootout to open season with win over Vancouver Canucks

Kassian’s injury fueled the ongoing debate about fighting in hockey. It has been on the decline but Kassian rejects the notion that one day it will disappear altogether.

“Fighting has been in hockey a very long time. It’s what makes hockey unique. Personally, I think it should always be in the game,” he explained. “The staged fighting, I don’t think there’s a place for that. I think that’s weeded out quite drastically.

“The flare-ups and standing up for your teammates, it’s an emotional game. When that happens and things boil over, there are going to be some fights here and there. That’s what makes hockey unique.”

Read more: Edmonton Oilers ponder future of fighting after Zack Kassian injury

While Kassian is expected to return, forward Devin Shore will miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury. On defence, Slater Koekkoek will replace Kris Russell.

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The Oilers and Flames are on 630 CHED with the Face-off Show at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The game will start at 8 p.m.