An Alberta member of the Hells Angels posted a photo of himself on his Instagram account last Friday with Edmonton Oilers winger Zack Kassian.
“Hockey is almost back and so are the deadly mutton chops,” full-patch Angel Dustin Lowry captioned the photo that shows him almost head-to-head with the 29-year-old NHLer.
That same day, Kassian hit the ice with other Oilers, showing off the mutton chops he debuted during Edmonton’s 2017 playoff run.
Tim Shipton, the Oilers’ vice-president of communications and government relations, said Kassian was at an Edmonton coffee shop when a fan approached him for a photo.
“Zack said it was in a public location and he doesn’t know the guy,” Shipton said Tuesday. “(Zack) is a blue-collar, fan-friendly guy. He’s beloved in our city.”
Players get approached by fans all the time, Shipton noted, adding that it would be next to impossible to vet every fan who they agree to take a photo with.
Kassian, however, follows Lowry’s Instagram account, which is locked to general users. He has thousands of followers, but follows just 464 accounts himself.
Lowry also commented on a photo that Kassian posted in May, showing Kassian on his Harley-Davidson motorcycle, inviting Kassian to come for a ride with Lowry in Edmonton.
Lowry is a former member of Edmonton’s Westridge chapter who has now switched to the Attica charter in Greece, which he highlights on his Instagram profile.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he would travel back and forth between Canada and Greece.
Although Lowry’s Instagram account is private, a follower provided Postmedia with a copy of the photo.
Detective Jason Kemp, a biker specialist with the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT), said he also obtained a copy of the selfie.
And he said it is disappointing to see a professional athlete such as Kassian posing with a member of the Hells Angels.
Kemp noted that Kassian and Lowry are not maintaining social distancing in the photo.
He said Lowry is a very social member of the notorious biker club, attending events regularly. Just last week he was in Kelowna.
“I have personally observed Dustin Lowry — he’s a social butterfly — at all the runs and hugging and breaching the six-foot restrictions on multiple occasions.”
In the photo with Kassian, Lowry appears to be wearing a shirt with “666” on it.
“It’s very disappointing on a couple fronts. The primary one right now is with the COVID restrictions,” Kemp said.
He said it is also “pretty disappointing” that right after Kassian returned to Edmonton last week, he was photographed with a Hells Angel.
Kemp said he spoke to an Edmonton police liaison officer with the Oilers about the photo, mostly to find out if NHLers returning to the city are under restrictions “before they’re into the official team bubble.”
Shipton said that the team had reminded Kassian of the importance of maintaining social distancing, in light of this close encounter.
Other than the COVID concerns, Kemp said the photo sends the wrong message to young people who are influenced by prominent professional athletes.
“They have that platform, they have that ability to reach the youth, and they do a lot of work with the youth. We would expect that they would make good choices,” he said.
Source: Edmonton Journal by Kim Bolan and Patrick Johnston