When Zdeno Chara hit Max Pacioretty during Tuesday’s tilt between the Bruins and Canadiens, my stomach turned. I was not angry. I was simply worried about Pacioretty. It’s the most fear and concern I felt since Ondrej Pavelec mysteriously collapsed during a stoppage of play back in October. I could care less about the outcome of either game or what it meant for either team. These situations transcended the artificial boundaries of hockey and all I could do was sit at the edge of my seat and wait, hoping to hear that the player was going to be alright.
The difference between these two situations is that Chara caused the injury to Pacioretty by pushing him. Some would argue that the stanchion caused the injury but that’s like saying that guns kill people, not the people who shoot them.
Did Chara mean to direct his head into the stanchion? Did the league act properly by not suspending Chara for the injury or did they hide behind the rules and use them as an excuse? I don’t know and it’s not my job to guess.
To be completely honest, I’m torn on this situation. I understand why the league made the decision it did not to discipline Chara but I’m unsure whether or not I agree with it. No matter how much I try, I can’t take the human element out of my own judgment. It doesn’t matter whether a person intends to injure someone else or not, if an injury is caused, the disciplining body in charge needs to reinforce the idea that it is not OK.
“If you cause a player to be injured, then you have to be responsible for the play that you’re involved in, if there’s any carelessness or recklessness in it.”
So, why does Chara not have to be responsible for this injury? Furthermore, is it really accurate to say he has a clean record when the league rescinded his automatic suspension last season?
It just doesn’t add up for me. At the same time, Mike Murphy followed the letter of the law and, from that perspective, he was right. As a result, the league is facing some harsh criticism. Most notably, Air Canada threatened to pull its NHL sponsorship over the lack of discipline to Chara.
Tonight, former Bruin, Joe Thornton chimed in:
“It’s just something about Boston and the disciplinary [process] is on their side. I’m not sure why that is. I’m not assuming that Colin’s kid is on the team and that’s why, but it’s really bizarre.”
That quote makes you wonder how many other players feel there might be a bias as a result of Colin Campbell’s ties to the team. As it turns out, he’s not the only one. Ben Eager had this to say:
“I wasn’t surprised (at no suspension) because he plays for Boston. I know there’ve been a few incidents with that team and no suspension,” Eager said. “It’s kind of ironic because his son plays for that team.”
It’s interesting to read what other players have to say on the matter, as it validates the opinions some fans may hold.
From all of the fallout of the hit that rendered Pacioretty out indefinitely with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae, two developments left me with definitive opinions.
1. Chara is in the wrong for saying this:
“Unfortunate when I pushed him that he leaned and jumped a little into the glass extension.”
2. Bruins fans are in the wrong for doing this:
4) Zdeno Chara got a big ovation by Bruins fans as the game started during his first shift, and then heard shouts and chants of “Chara! Chara! Chara!” on the opening shift after his controversial play in Montreal. Bruins fans have always implored for more nastiness out of their captain during his time in Boston. Nobody ever wants to see a player injured badly, obviously. But it’s pretty clear the fans approve of the unflinching physicality from Chara, and don’t want to see him lose his “edge” because of one ugly situation against their arch-rivals.
If it had been Matt Cooke, Sean Avery, or Dan Carcillo delivering the hit instead of Zdeno Chara, would these facts get overlooked or would we all be revolted that the player would have the nerve to say that and the fans would have the audacity to support him? I bet it’s the latter.
How is it possible that — if for no other reason — in the wake of Sidney Crosby’s concussion, the league is so willing to hastily turn a blind eye to Chara’s apathetic finger-pointing and the support he received from Boston’s fans? I am utterly embarrassed for the NHL.