Max Pacioretty Speaks: Zdeno Chara and the NHL Need to Listen

Russ GodekContributor IIIMarch 10, 2011

Two days after a scary incident in Montreal in which Canadiens player Max Pacioretty collided violently with a stanchion on the glass, he is speaking from his hospital bed.

In a game on Tuesday night, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara shoved Pacioretty along the boards, forcing his head to clip the stanchion as he passed, causing serious injuries. Pacioretty received a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra.

"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him," Pacioretty told TSN. "I'm not mad for myself. I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's okay, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.

"It's been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I've got a fractured vertebrae, I'm in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something," said Pacioretty.

From these words, it should be clear to the NHL that they dropped the ball here. After a review yesterday from NHL senior vice president of hockey operations, Mike Murphy, it was decided no supplemental discipline would be handed out to Chara.

Murphy released this statement after his teleconference with Chara: "After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline...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."

Whether or not intent is involved, only Chara knows for sure. While the video does not make Chara look too good, he still defends himself. Intent or not, the play was reckless, however.

Should the NHL not suspend players for reckless behavior? This was an unfortunate incident, but not in the sense that it couldn't have been prevented. It most certainly could have been prevented.

Chara interfered with a player away from the puck, a penalty in the NHL. Additionally, he is responsible for being aware of his and other players' positions on the ice at all time. The onus is on Chara to respect Pacioretty's position, and he did not.

As Pacioretty said, the NHL is continuing to show players that it is okay to conduct yourself in a reckless manner and have no worries about a suspension.

A few questions have arisen from this incident. Should a player's reputation be considered in the level of punishment? Does intent need to be factored in as well? Can you determine intent or not? Should the length of suspension be based on the result or the action?

What do you think? Did the NHL get it right by not suspending Chara?

To me, reputation should not be factored in. Certainly, if they are a repeat offender, there should be an increased suspension, but repeat or not, there needs to be a standard set for an automatic suspension.

In the NHL, it's an automatic 10-game suspension to leave your bench to fight, but there's no automatic suspension for dirty plays such as head shots or the one that occurred Tuesday night. Does anyone else see an issue with that?

With the recent incidents, such as the head shots to David Booth, Marc Savard and Eric Tangradi and the other incidents including the two on-ice circuses involving the Boston Bruins-Montreal Canadiens and Pittsburgh Penguins-New York Islanders, the NHL has had countless opportunities to say, "Enough is enough."

Many are concerned, including members in the media, players and fans, about the NHL showing itself as a dangerous sport that does not properly protect its players.

How they can protect their players better is for an entirely different debate. One thing is certain, though: Something needs to be done. Is the NHL going to wait until a death occurs on ice before it steps in?

This incident alone has already caused one top sponsor, Air Canada, to issue a stern warning to the league, telling them to clean up their game or face losing a premier sponsorship.

Additionally, the lack of action taken by the NHL has sparked Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions to request a police investigation. While this does not mean an investigation will take place or that any charges will be filed, it is the first step towards those actions occurring.

Until the NHL wakes up, it will continue to shoot itself in the foot. For a league looking to gain prominence and more respect in the mainstream market, it is not acting accordingly.

What do you think of all this? Sound off in the comments below.


    Game 74: Habs vs. Penguins

    Montreal Canadiens logo
    Montreal Canadiens

    Game 74: Habs vs. Penguins

    Eyes On The Prize
    via Eyes On The Prize

    Patrik Laine Suffers Injury Blocking Shot

    NHL logo

    Patrik Laine Suffers Injury Blocking Shot

    James O'Brien
    via ProHockeyTalk

    'Sky's the Limit' for Bruins' Rookie Donato

    NHL logo

    'Sky's the Limit' for Bruins' Rookie Donato

    NBC Sports
    via NBC Sports

    Player Safety Report Focuses on Boarding, Interference

    NHL logo

    Player Safety Report Focuses on Boarding, Interference