It has been almost a week since Zdeno Chara knocked out Max Pacioretty with a hit that has spawned conversation across the league.
Whether it is in mainstream media, blogs or just around the water cooler, the hit, which caused a severe concussion and fractured a cervical vertebra, has been the talk of the league.
The NHL's subsequent ruling on the hit, choosing neither to suspend nor fine Chara for the incident, set the hockey world on fire with players, fans and media alike seemingly polarized on the issue and whether further discipline was required.
It was around that time that I sent out a Tweet, a Facebook message and an e-mail to a few people I know, to get their reactions on the NHL's ruling. Unfortunately, I didn't receive any response from any Bruins fans or media, but I did get a ton of responses from the Habs camp.
In addition, I had a bunch of media people who didn't want me to print a quote from them since they had nothing nice and/or clean to say about the matter!
So, I have compiled some of the responses below for you to see a good cross section of how the world, at least the Habs-world, is feeling about the issue.
Bloggers and Media People
Nick Murdocco, Radio Host, The Franchise weekend morning show on the Team 990.
"My official opinion may never be known. IF Gregory Campbell ever lies motionless on the ice after a similar "hockey play" and Mike Murphy (obviously not Colin Campbell) decide that no suspension is warranted, then I will know they were being impartial with Pacioretty’s situation. Still blind, barbaric, idiotic and disrespectful towards all players and fans, but impartial nonetheless."
Allen, from Four Habs Fans
Really, I said it all here and I'll ask you to link to this: http://fourhabsfans.blogspot.com/2011/03/ok-get-out-pitchforks-and-torches-now.html
Kyle Roussel, Cowhide and Rubber
"Pathetic. From the buildup to the event, to the history between the two players, to the sight of the unconscious Pacioretty, to Chara hiding like a coward, and blaming the victim, to the NHL & NHLPA's response, to the Media's lack of sense, to the Canadiens not standing up for their player, this entire debacle is in a word, pathetic."
Brain La Rose, Habsworld.net
"Though I was disappointed to not see Chara get a token game or two due to the seriousness of Pacioretty's injury, I wasn't really surprised. When I saw the hit, my original suspicion was that there would be no suspension; it was just a gut feeling I had and sure enough, it turned out to be right sadly."
Leigh Anne (a.k.a. JT), The H does NOT stand for Habs
"First: There's been a great deal of debate about Chara's intent on the hit. That debate is obscuring the real issue, and that's the lack of consequences for the outcome of his action. Whether he hit Pacioretty on purpose or not is beside the point; the fact remains he seriously hurt another player and should be punished regardless of intent.
Second: There is something seriously wrong with a league in which gesturing at another player to...(perform oral sex)...gets you two games, but breaking a man's neck is a "hockey" play and not worthy of suspension. The NHL was worried young players might emulate Wisniewski's gesture, but apparently has no problem with them emulating Chara."
Eric Engels, Habs writer for CTV and Hockeybuzz.com
"Unless the players take on the role of stimulating drastic change, I've never been more sure that someone will be killed in an NHL game. It's quite clear that the owners, the league, the commissioner and those that are supposed to keep things under control care more about not offending each other than they do protecting their greatest assets: the players."
Steven Hindle, Habs and Capitals writer, Hockeybuzz.com
"Regardless of what the intent was, or who the person throwing the hit was, it was certainly something no one needs to go through.
It was frightening, but more to the point, it was violent and uncalled for. As an ambassador and role model, watching Chara throw this hit just threw me for a loop.
It's hard to argue that Zdeno isn't a respectful player, but having seen what transpired you just have to wonder what he was thinking?"
Sean Coleman, radio producer and co-host, The Team 990, via Facebook
"NHL decision is understandable, yet a touch disappointing. I was hoping for two games. Regardless, it's not as crazy of a decision as people are making it out to be."
Louis Moustakas, blogger for Habsworld.net, via Facebook
"The notion of discerning intent is ridiculous. Regardless of intent, a high-stick is always called a penalty. But when a player's career and quality life are put in jeopardy, the league washes its hands of the incident? We are not in Chara'...s head. We will never really know what he was thinking. Just like with Steckel on Crosby, actions should be punished, not some cockamamie interpretation of intent.
As for the hit itself, given Chara's immense skill, you have to imagine he had some sense of what he was doing and where he was on the ice. Add to that the frustration of losing 4-0 and the history with Pacioretty, it does not paint a pretty picture."
Rico Calzone, via Facebook
"Should have been at least two intentional or not"
Josh Hanson, via Facebook
"The league has shown that there are double standards. Gillies gets 10 for a late shoulder to shoulder check and Chara gets none for this. Your name bar determines the severity of the penalty you get. Plain and simple."
Gerry Berard, via Facebook
"I'm ashamed to be a hockey fan. I'm 57 years old and learned to love the Habs on my grandmother's knee. There's enough hate in this world; why should I look for more in a game?"
Farooq Zahir, via Facebook
"A player should always be held accountable for his actions, irrespective of the demons in his head (surely Chara has a few of those). Chara broke MaxPac's neck (a la Bertuzzi on Moore) and the NHL did nothing. That's troubling...If you run a red light and get a ticket, does the cop care why you did it? Obviously not. Similarly, if you cause someone to break his neck and almost cripple him, should you not be barred until the player you hurt comes back and plays again....?"
Bryan Willey, via Facebook
"The NHL further cemented itself as a Bush league sport. Americans don't take this seriously because there is no reason to.
Can you imagine a situation when a kid kills another man and then goes to court to Dave, his judge, who happens to be his dad? His dad outright says he cannot lay verdict however my assistant who I hand picked, will. This is the reality that is the NHL.
Wisniewski gets two games for simulating oral sex, Gillies gets 10 games for a late shoulder-to-shoulder hit but Chara, who undeniably hits Pacioretty behind his head and rams his face into a partition, is deemed a good old hockey play.
Congrats NHL on your continuous a**-clownery and inability to ever be taken seriously."
@alexheddle, via Twitter
"plyrs need to b held responsible for their actions on ice. accidental or not, they r responsible for knowing their surroundings"
@Habfan4ever, via Twitter
"Clearly Chara got his hands up and is worse than Gillies by far. Retribution to come."
@dayvee55,, via Twitter
"I'm done with the NHL.The goofballs are running the show,players and management."
@derekdonais, via Twitter
"If it wasn't such a disgusting incident, I'd say it was laughable. An opinion based on a thorough review of his job security." (re: Mike Murphy's decision not to suspend Chara)
@habs89, via Twitter
"NHL's Message - play in the league 13 seasons without suspension and you're free to do what you want to people. Not taking...a player's no suspension history into account means he'll never have a history! NHL is a joke..."
@DannyConcister, via Twitter
"The @NHL will never do anything until someone dies. There's my response."
@MikeGasse, via Twitter
"Six games for insulting a players' gf, two games for a (BJ) gesture...concussion and broken neck: nothing. What a joke.
@Dgrdnr, via Twitter
"The league is not protecting it's players. The judgement should have been based on consequences, not intent.
@dereklachine, via Twitter
"Go on any forum right now. Not just CH Fans are calling for suspension: TOR, PHI, EVEN Bruins are. A sad day for all NHL fans."
@mcdonellm, via Twitter
"Colin Campbell has a conflict of interest with the bruins."
@Mark_Haughey, via Twitter
"Disgusting decision, if Habs player takes matters into own hands next game I guarantee they will be suspended."
@PlaneteSFG55, via Twitter
"Im honestly waiting for the NHL to come out and say "ok, ok, we were just joking guys! u didnt think we were serious, did u?"
@Sheldon_egg, via Twitter
"Typical NHL ruling. No anger or surprise here. Another dropped ball by a Mickey Mouse league. At least Patches is gonna be ok."
@shmitzysays, via Twitter
"Funny, because I personally thought the near death part kind of ruined a good hockey game. Silly me."
@KingofRoncy, via Twitter
"ADD in to the article that the #nhl has to look at a safer stanchion perhaps angled to deflect or better padded?"
@Ayan_SB, via Twitter
"Chara for the Lady Byng award!"
@Habs514, via Twitter
"As I just tweeted, Avery and Wiz's actions were seen more horribly than Chara's. NHL is about image. Not about the players."
@RoseyLaRose78, via Twitter
"Decision bothers and makes me question the #NHL. They want hits to head gone, but guess not. Fails like this = bad retribution."
@Jeffery_James, via Twitter
"Chara meant to interfere and the consequence was a serious injury! Appalled there's no discipline."
@greysonknutson, via Twitter
"Just cuz it's a bad spot on the ice doesn't mean Chara didn't know what he was doing. Unbelievable, poor Patches, not fair."
@gmjrb, via Twitter
"I'm going to take a break from the NHL for a while. Here in Kitchener, that'll be easy. Its all Leafs all the time."
@despisethesun, via Twitter
"Absolutely disgusting. No other hockey league would've let it go w/out discipline. The @NHL doesn't care about player safety."
@hirky13, via Twitter
"The ruling is ridiculous, just ask the Wiz, who was disciplined for a 'hand gesture'."
@Neweradisco87, via Twitter
"Unbelievable. The NHL's priority is not what is best for players but for themselves. Does someone need to die for change?"
@crussellp, via Twitter
"Time for Gary Bettman, Murphy and Campbell to take in a game in MTL. #NewMTLRiots"
@SeriousFan09, via Twitter
"My short response, the NHL is simply corrupt and doesn't care about player health. They think nearly dying makes Good TV."
@llwillia, via Twitter
"Today is a watershed moment for the #nhl. They had the opportunity to do the right thing and lead by example and failed."
@onewayforever, via Twitter
"Not attending nor watching a NHL game until next season. This one is over anyway."
So the people have spoken and we know how they feel. What I want to know from you is with all the momentum building to change with the way the NHL deals with these head shots and concussions, what, if anything, do you think will be the ultimate outcome?
The GM meetings are taking place in Florida and this issue is at the top of the list. So what will the league do? What should they do?
Will they implement new rules? Tougher regulation? Stiffer suspension?
Kamal is a freelance Habs writer, Senior Writer/Editor-in-Chief of HabsAddict.com, Montreal Canadiens Blogger on Hockeybuzz.com and Habs writer on TheFranchise.ca. Kamal is also a weekly contributor to the Sunday Shinny on The Team 990 (AM 990) every Sunday from 8 - 9 AM. Listen live at http://www.team990.com/