Tuesday night  I, along with many others, watched as Zdeno Chara‘s hit sent  Max Pacioretty‘s head into a glass stanchion, knocking Pacioretty out cold.  I watched as he laid motionless for several minutes.  I watched as he was taken out on a stretcher and sent to the hospital.  According to Montreal coach Jacques Martin, Pacioretty, 22, suffered a severe concussion and a fracture of the 4th cervical vertebrae when Chara ran him into the end of the glass that divides the players’ benches, late in the second period at Montreal’s Bell Centre.  It was an unfortunate play which very well may end Pacioretty’s N.H.L. career, which is a shame since he had been playing so well for the Canadiens.  Chara received a penalty for the interference and a game misconduct with a ruling set for Wednesday.  Many sports writers were certain Chara would be suspended, some even condemning his actions .

Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun wrote “Did Chara know the support post was there?   Almost certainly.   It was right beside the Bruins’ bench, past which both players were skating when he began to shove Pacioretty.  Did he maliciously push Pacioretty into the post?  Speculative, but not out of the question.  The two had clashed when Pacioretty scored the winning goal in a January game, and shoved Chara in the back afterward, as he celebrated.  But now, the league is into mind-reading, trying to put itself into Chara’s head and determine whether he meant to cause serious injury.  And it just doesn’t matter.  He did.”

There has to be a level of accountability when it comes to the players and their actions especially when it is perceived to be an “accident”.  I am in total agreement with Cam Cole’s statement.  Even though Pacioretty should have been more aware of where he was, I’m sure he didn’t expect to have his head shoved into the stanchion.  I just don’t buy into the ridiculous idea “it’s part of the game”.  I understand that it’s a rough sport, but when it comes to situations like this, when is the N.H.L. going to take a stand and hold players more accountable for their actions?  They had the chance Wednesday and they blew it.  They didn’t suspend Chara at all which is an outrage.

NHL senior vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy said in a news release.  “This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly — with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards.  I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous.”

When is enough, enough?  What’s it going to take to get through to these people?  Does a player have to die to get through to them?  I’m sure Mike Murphy would think differently if it were his son or Colin Campbell‘s son.  Wait, Colin’s son does play and what a coincidence, he plays for the Boston Bruins same as Chara.  Barely three years in, Pacioretty may be forced to retire because of this unfortunate incident where a player was not mindful of his surroundings!  That’s what it all comes down to, being mindful of your surroundings.  Had Chara paid attention to where he was, he most certainly would not have driven Pacioretty’s head into the glass stanchion!  So where’s the accountability?

Bottom line, the hit was late; it was interference; it caused injury and while the design of the boards and glass were largely to blame for the severity of the injury, the responsibility is still with the hitter.  Chara should have been suspended, even if for a measly two games, though I think he deserved more.  To those reporters who agreed with the N.H.L.’s decision, I ask this:  Where is your humanity?

Sources:  Vancouver Sun and TSN

Until the next puck drops,



About Nick Posteraro

I'm just a big sports fan looking to share my opinions with the world. NFL and NHL blogs are my specialty.

Posted on March 10, 2011, in N.H.L. and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. …. I also watched the game, and saw the hit. I am also a boston sports fan of 32 years. The Bruins/Canadians rivalry is just as intense as any rivalry in sports, equivalent to redsox/yankees, and lakers/celtics. With that said… I am also a fan of sports foremost. After the game, listening to local and national sports radio, television, internet and print i had come to this conclusion. The hit, interference, was technically “illegal” and called so on the ice, as well as a game misconduct. Given that situation, in that part of the rink, it periodically presents itself. Both players engage in almost a game of ‘chicken’ at that point. Both aware of where they are, and what the results could be. Defender gives in… offensive player forwards the puck. Offensive player backs off… defender wins the puck. 9 times out of 10, this situation ends up in someone hitting the turnbuckle, and most often bouncing right back up. Chara’s reputation in Boston has LONG been that he is “soft”, especially for his size. We criticize him on his lack of aggressiveness. With that also said, and knowing that in Chara’s 12+ year career he has had 1 suspension (and it was for a fight instigation when he was in Ottawa) and not known as a “dirty player”, i was still expecting a game or two suspension. But will admit I was not surprised by the NHL’s decision. The NHL (just like other major sports such as the NFL) is cracking down on “dirty”/head shots, that are unnecessary. I tried to do some reserch (and help me if you can) but wasn’t it not to long ago when Max Pacioretty was under fire for a (quote) “dirty hit”? (all i could find when i Googled it was the chara hit).

    Bringing me to my next point…. (and to my best knowledge I remember you were a leafs fan) WHAT THE FUCK ARE PEOPLE IN MONTREAL THINKING!? seriously.. after the NHL stated that Chara would not be fined or suspended…. THEY CALLED 911! (or what ever the emergency service number in canada is) to file CRIMINAL charges? There is now police, parliament, and major sponsors (air canada) all over this like it is the rodney king ok hockey scandles! Where was this “passion” when Pacioretty drilled a guy, or sidney crosby got K.O.’d? Or when Matt Cooke targeted Marc Savard (most likley ending his career? And why do Canadians fans feel the need to Boo the American National Anthem? these are just all thing i feel play into this situation. Although unfortunate, unfair, and seemingly unreasonable by Montreal fans at this point.

    Bottom line… The NHL, the NFL, Boxing, all sports need to concentrate on the future of head injuries. Preventing them, avoiding them, and working towards holding people accountable. I just feel that this was an unfortunate situation of “wrong place, wrong time”, and would honestly feel the same way if the shoe was on the other foot.

    Loking forward to a possible Habs/Bruins playoff matchup! Whish you and Matt the best. Talk to you soon my friend.


    • I love hockey and hate all these head shots that are happening whether it’s from Pacioretty or anyone else. It keeps great players like Savard and Crosby, from having a long career. I really hope the NHL can do something to try to eliminate this. I think a way to start is to tighten up and hand out much more severe suspensions for this garbage. I do think they should have suspended Chara based on the outcome. A couple of games would have gone a long way, but nothing only sparked an outrage. They can educate all they want, but people only understand consequences and when there aren’t any like in Chara’s case, players will continue to play on and hurt each other. I don’t want to see hitting gone, but smarter hitting and not to the head. If you see a player is in a bad situation, don’t escalate it as Chara did even if he and Pacioretty were playing “chicken” with each other.

      This all being said, Cooke and Gilles should be banned from the league…someone has to be made an example of. The league can’t keep taking this crap and 1-10 game suspensions don’t work. They should try 15-20 and see if players respond when they lose a quarter of their salary.

      The fans in Montreal can go overboard sometimes and should never have involved the police. They should really learn to be more respectful because I know I’m fuming if I ever hear anyone boo the Canadian anthem. It’s not right and the organization has tried to stop it but they don’t learn. Montreal has a lot of American players so to me it’s really stupid what they do.


  2. .: I was sickened watching this last night, and have read through countless blog postings and comments on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere. I agree with what you have written here, and unfortunately, I think it’s going to take something severe to jolt the NHL into making changes. That means a player will need to be paralyzed for life or killed in an incident similar to the one last night. How Pacioretty ONLY ended up with a severe concussion (duh) and a non-displaced fracture of one vertebra is a modern miracle.

    • Thanks for the comment. It’s sad that it will have to come to that for them to learn. I’m a fan of hockey and I get that it’s rough but come on, nobody wants to see someone carried out on a stretcher. Accident or not, Chara should have been suspended. I had a good laugh over this comment Wikipedia had to say about Mike Murphy. They said “Currently, Murphy is the NHL vice-president of hockey operations. It is in those functions that on 9 March 2011, he rendered a stupid disciplinary decision, by declining to take sanctions against Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for a highly dangerous body check on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. The Montreal forward suffered a broken vertebrae and remained unconscious for several minutes following the hit.”
      It’s a miracle Pacioretty wasn’t paralyzed. Hopefully he makes a full recovery and can play again.


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