More than 1,000 Montreal Canadiens fans gathered outside the Bell Centre on Tuesday, March 15 before their team took on the Washington Capitals to make a statement to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman about the league's failure to suspend Boston Bruins' behemoth Zdeno Chara after he ran Habs forward, Max Pacioretty, headfirst into the stanchion.
Organized through a Facebook event, the purpose of the protest was for Habs fans to express their disgust with the way the NHL handled the situation. A petition was circulated which called for the league to ban hits-to-the head, something that was discussed at the ongoing general managers meetings in Florida. Today, the GMs decided against such a ban.
"There is not support on a widespread basis for a blanket head hit rule, but we are going to look to see if we can come up with a head hit rule in addition to Rule 48 that focuses on dangerous hits; hits when a player is vulnerable, or engaged with another player and a third player comes in, or where there is excessive force," Bettman stated at the meeting.
Despite this, fans arrived in droves - whether to attend the game or the protest, who knows—with signs that stated "Gary Bettman is the George Bush of the NHL" and "National Headshots League."
Capitals coach Bruce Broudreau gave his opinion on the matter when he was asked by reporters at the team's pre-game skate.
"You don't like it, don't come to the games," he told them. "Listen, I don't want to get into any controversy but if that was Hall Gill that hit David Krejci, I don't think there'd be a protest going on here tonight."