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Zack Kassian placed in NHL substance abuse program, suspended

Montreal Canadiens forward Zack Kassian has been placed in Stage Two of the NHL’s substance abuse and behavioral health program.

Canadiens forward Zack Kassian has been placed in Stage Two of the NHL’s substance abuse and behavioral health program, the league announced Monday. He will be suspended without pay while he remains in the program.

Kassian cannot return until be his cleared by the program’s administrators.

Kassian was involved in a car accident around 6 a.m. on Sunday in Montreal. Kassian, who was not driving, broke his foot and his nose in the crash. Police told the Montreal Gazette that the driver, a 20-year-old woman, hit a tree in a pickup truck. Kassian and an 18-year-old woman were passengers, according to police. 

A witness told the Gazette that Kassian “was in a daze” after the crash and “had a hard time walking.”

“I’m a firm believer in character, and that’s really a lack of character and judgment on his part,” Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin told reporters Monday

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Kassian, 24, was acquired in July from the Canucks in a trade that sent Brandon Prust to Vancouver. The Habs also received a fifth-round pick in the deal. 

Kassian was expected to be the right winger on the fourth line, but his injury and suspension leaves that spot open to competition.

The Canadiens open the regular season in Toronto on Wednesday against the Maple Leafs

- Dan Gartland