It's been a long time since as much hype around tonight's match between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins?
And in my 37 years of hockey watching hockey, that's certainly saying something.
We all know about the back story, the fallout and the subsequent call for changes in the NHL that were spurred by Zdeno Chara's devastating hit on Max Pacioretty only 16 days ago.
So, with the final regular season match-up between these two rivals set to take place tonight in Boston, Mark Recchi spiced things up yesterday by saying on Boston radio that the Canadiens embellished Pacioretty's injury "a little."
Well, as expected, that set the Habs-world on fire with a largely negative backlash against the Bruins veteran.
At 43 years of age, and with 21 seasons under his belt, it's hard to believe that Recchi would make such a foolish comment, even if he did believe it. The only potential save for Recchi is that he was clearly goaded into the comment but, as a veteran, he should have known better than to throw fuel on a bonfire.
I think Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette said it best when he called Recchi's comments irresponsible and offensive.
Damn straight, Dave!
With the recent suspension of Matt Cooke for his elbow to the head of the Rangers' Ryan McDonough, and general managers, fans, media and players alike calling for a change, Recchi's comments shows some of the remaining divide between those who buy into today's scientific knowledge about concussions, and those who are still lagging behind.
At question in all of this is the quickness with which Pacioretty seems to be recovering from a severe concussion and fractured fourth cervical vertebra in his neck.
I'm not a doctor, but from everything I have read about concussions, the severity is judged by the length of time that a person is knocked unconscious, and not by the after effects. So a severe concussion means that the brain severely impacted the skull, knocking the player out for an extended period of time but makes has no impact on the recovery time.
The funny thing about concussions is that no two are the same, and each person reacts and recovers along a different timeline, the reasons for which are still not clear for many doctors.
For some, a concussion results in long time headaches from a vareity of sources like light sensitivity and physical activity. While others need a year or more for recovery.
Others still, like Pacioretty, inexplicably have little to no after-effects from the concussion.
Which begs the question, just because a player doesn't suffer after-effects of a concussion, does this mean that they or the medical staff are embellishing the injury?
Absolutely not! And to claim that they are in order to get a player, in this case Chara, suspended is absurdly ignorant and completely misses the point.
When a player is injured as badly as Pacioretty was, whose fractured vertebra was millimeters away from being a paralyzing or life ending injury, the concern has to be the health of the injured player and not a suspension for the hitter.
When a player's life hangs in the balance, people should remember that hockey is just a game. There are much more important things in life, and the fact the Pacioretty seems to be suffering minimal ill effects and could be back in time for the playoffs is extremely fortunate.
This is 2011 people, not 1971, and it's time for the game and it's backward thinking players to get with the times before someone actually dies on the ice.
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 a.m. Listen live at http://www.team990.com/
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