Hot on the heels of another recent lawsuit, Ottawa Senators forward Matt Kassian has filed a lawsuit with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, saying he was defamed in online comments on SilverSevenSens.com which accused him of detrimentally affecting the Senators' chances of winning hockey games.
Kassian alleges the online comments published by a number of people, most of whom are only known by online pseudonyms such as "SensFan90", "Radek Bonk's Mullet" and "Poonerman", are untrue. Only two of the defendants were listed by actual names: "Adnan" and "Mark Parisi".
Kassian's statement of claim says the online comments were widely circulated on social media. His statement says the online remarks constantly question his adequacy as a professional athlete and assert that Kassian provides little to the Ottawa Senators hockey club other than a willingness to fight members of the opposing team.
The statement of claim notes that fans wasted no time in defaming Kassian, reacting to the Senators' acquisition of the former 2nd rounder with comments like "LOL Ottawa", "This guy sounds like he's useless on the ice" and "Likely to be outscored by a puppy on skates during intermission entertainment".
One fan-submitted post titled How Much Of An Anchor Is Matt Kassian To The Fourth Line? is noted in court documents as being particularly harsh in its assessment. "How Kassian has managed to not become a healthy scratch is beyond me," says author SensForLife11, "especially now that he's roughly averaging six minutes or less a game...."
According to the statement of claim, an online comment from a user named "Speedy McEachern" went on to suggest that Kassian was only getting icetime because he possessed compromising photos of head coach Paul MacLean.
Silver Seven responds to allegations
In response to the statement of claim, Silver Seven founder Peter Raaymakers expressed dismay at the allegations. "Look, I realize that some of our users may get a little overworked about Kassian's puck possession numbers, but that's not everyone. A user named "ChrisNeilForCaptain" thought Kassian was the best acquisition in 5 years and another user wrote a defence of Kassian that got 6 recs. 6 recs!"
Raaymakers went on to note that he himself had written a lengthy article on the success of the Kassian-Z.Smith-Neil line and had previously given Kassian an honourable mention in a recap. Raaymakers then questioned whether the negative comments about Kassian's icetime could be considered defamation when they were, for the most part, true.
Kassian's lawyer releases statement
In a statement released on Saturday, Kassian's lawyer Pascal Leclaire said the comments are false and defamatory, and that they have hurt Kassian's feelings.
The court documents say Kassian is suing for losses, damages to his reputation, and pressbox hotdogs. His lawyer is also seeking to have each of the defendants create an infographic about Kassian's accomplishments or write a FanPost describing their favourite Matt Kassian moments.
"Matt has decided that it is time to stop people who post comments on the Internet from thinking they can fabricate wild stories with impunity," Leclaire said. "I mean, one of these guys was bashing him based on things called Corsi, Fenwick, and WOWY. Do they even watch the games?"