Zdeno Chara Escapes Suspension: Did The NHL Get It Right?

Mark RitterSenior Writer IMarch 9, 2011

MONTREAL, CANADA - MARCH 8:  Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens lies on the ice after being body checked by Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins (not pictured) during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on March 8, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

By now every hockey fan has heard National Hockey League senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy’s decision not to impose any supplemental discipline upon Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for what many NHL fans perceived as a questionable hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.

While we all feel for Pacioretty (who suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced fractured fourth cervical vertebrae on the play), the reality is Pacioretty was the victim of a hockey play and nothing else.

Getting hit by the 6’9”, 255-pound Chara is like getting hit by a truck at the best of times. The fact Chara inadvertently slammed Pacioretty into a glass partition just magnified the damage he is capable of inflicting on opposing players.

NHL hockey has been under a ton of scrutiny by the NHLPA, fans, concerned players and executives for what is thought to be a lot of disrespect between opposing players, often resulting in dirty hits, or worse still, headshots.

In the case of Chara’s hit on Pacioretty, it was neither a dirty hit nor a head shot, two factors Murphy was quick to point out in a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon.

“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,” Murphy said.

For his part, Chara was apologetic for the outcome of the hit, but he was not apologizing for making the hit on Pacioretty.

NHL.com published the following statement from Chara regarding the hit:

“It's just one of those things…like glass extensions, doors, even hockey nets are part of the game and obviously players run into them.

"It's just very, very unfortunate that a player got hurt."

Let's face it, if anything is to blame for for Pacioretty's injury it is the lack of padding in the area he was checked into, but that's a whole other story for another day.

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens were facing each other for the first time since their brawl-filled match on February 9 in which the Bruins and Canadiens were handed out a total of 182 penalty minutes, including 12 fights.

Needless to say, the Bruins' and Canadiens' long-standing rivalry, which has involved numerous brawls and contentious playoff games, has been in full effect this season, leading to much speculation about Tuesday night’s game.

As real as the rivalry and bad blood between these two teams is, anyone who feels that Chara maliciously and intentionally went out on the ice with the explicit intention of injuring Max Pacioretty is just plain wrong.

This was not a premeditated incident and, contrary to some fan opinion, this was not another "Bertuzzi incident."

To be fair, Pacioretty was throwing his weight around all game long. While nobody will ever say that Pacioretty had it coming, he just happened to be the victim of an unlucky set of events that caused a horrible injury.

As only Montreal Canadien fans can blow an incident out of proportion, the Canadian Press is reporting that Montreal police were “inundated” with calls from angry Montreal fans looking to file a criminal complaint against Chara.

I am all for supporting your hockey team and its players, but calling the police in this incident was an act of stupidity, one that could have cost those that were in need of emergency services to be compromised.

Nobody deserves to be injured in such a severe fashion as Pacioretty was. Our hope (and the hope of hockey fans everywhere) is that he has a quick and successful recovery.

That said, the bottom line is this: the NHL got this one right.

To read more NHL news check out my website at theslapshot.com

Until next time,



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