Today we received the very sad news that Max Pacioretty has suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae. This is a terrible injury for anyone to go through nonetheless a young 22 year-old man.
As Canucks blogger Peter Tessier puts it "If you don't have an opinion on that hit you must be void of emotion and common sense." The thing is I don't have a clear cut 100% opinion on this hit. Here is where I'm at 80% Montreal, 20% Boston. That may seem a little heartless, but please let me explain. THE RESULT of the injury alone is worth a suspension for the rest of the regular season and a fine. Without a single doubt in my mind, if the NHL is "cracking" down on head shots this is a suspension.
Think of this (I can't remember the players involved but...) if a player can get a play under review by the NHL for accidentally hitting a player with his stick in the face from a crosscheck that bounced of his shoulder, how can Chara not get suspended? Chara's arms extended through Pacioretty's upper body as to throw Max' head into the boards. There is no doubt about that. If you need proof, the video is below.
If this hit happened anywhere else along the boards the hit would not have been called. The upper body push Zdeno delivered would have thrown Max up in the boards and back onto the ice. Hell, it might even have been played on the night's biggest hits on TSN. But because the hit was along the bench and Chara threw Max into the stantion, this is a whole different ballgame. Is this simply just a wrong place, wrong time hit for Chara? Or was there INTENT? "Nobody knows but Zdeno Chara" is basically what Mike Cammalleri said in an interview this morning. He is correct.
This is what we know:
1. Chara drove the head of Max Pacioretty into the stantion.
2. The puck was nowhere near.
What we don't know:
1. Did Chara want to hurt Pacioretty?
If the intent is there, he's gone for the rest of the season AND the play-offs. That's it - there is no discussion. The NHL wants to get strict? Well why don't you grow a pair and lay down the law! Because I speak for all hockey fans when I say that I don't want to see players getting injured because of dumb ass head shots like this anymore! If there is a way to prove intent, the case is closed.
Unfortunately, we don't know if Chara wanted to hurt Max at that time. So what should the NHL have done?
I think of it this way - accidents happen (of course). For example, in today's society if a 4 year old kid steals a candy from a corner store, the child isn't going to jail. The kid had no idea what he was doing. This is similar to what happened when that player cross checked another by accident. He didn't know any better! He meant to crosscheck him in the shoulder not the face, and he get's in trouble? (If anyone knows what I`m talking about let me know who was involved...I believe it was Dallas). Notice though, that both incidents were fairly small. The kid was not malicious when stealing the candy, and nobody is getting seriously injured from a crosscheck to the chin.
Chara`s hit was more than a small incident, it led to serious injury. If we look back at when Richard Zednick got his throat cut open, we know there was no intent. Therefore no suspension. We don`t know whether Zdeno Chara intended to injure Max Pacorietty, therefore we must asses the situation from the injury. Again an example from today`s society, if you have a gun and you accidentally kill someone, you are going to jail. It does't matter if you didn't do it on purpose, there is no way of telling. You MUST get punished. Chara seriously injured a peer. That alone deserves a suspension until the end of the season.
That is why I am 80% on Montreal`s side.
All that being said, I have to give Zdeno the benefit of the doubt. Chara has always been a player that popped out in my mind. He has a huge shot, is the biggest guy in the NHL, and he seems pretty chill. So maybe Zdeno didn`t mean to throw Max' head into the stantion, instead he was actually trying to angle him off.
Even the commentator in the video of the hit above said "I can`t believe that Zdeno would do such a thing...I have played with Chara and I really hope this wasn't on purpose or else I would be disgusted." The RDS Montreal Canadians commentator was giving him the benefit of the doubt, so why not myself?
That is the only reason why I'm 20% on Boston's side.
There is only one other incident I can compare this to from my recent memory - Todd Bertuzzi on Steve Moore sucker punch. As a side note, that game was the first game my little sister ever went to. Good thing she didn't leave after the first period like she wanted to! Let's compare these two incidents...take a look at the Bertuzzi sucker punch first:
HISTORY BETWEEN TEAMS:
Montreal / Boston: Very bad blood between these two teams. They've hated each other for years, and the past meetings this season were no different.
Vancouver/Colorado: The incident happened at the peak of the hate between these two division rivals.
HISTORY BETWEEN PLAYERS:
Chara/Pacioretty: Chara and Pacioretty do have a history. Small things like even when Max scored a goal against them a while before Chara pushed him while he was getting the pat on the head from his team mates.
Moore/Bertuzzi: A week before the horrendous sucker punch of Bertuzzi, Moore elbowed Naslund in the head (at the time Naslund was the leagues scoring leader). The sucker punch happened as revenge of that hit.
Chara: Who knows?
Bertuzzi: He wanted to send a message and there is no doubt that he did it in the wrong way.
I hope for the moral standards of human beings in general that neither of these players intended to seriously injure or end hockey careers. I find these two incidents uncannily similar.
Sorry for kind of going everywhere with my thoughts in this post, but to summarize it in one sentence I would say:
Since it is unclear whether or not Chara was "going" for Max Pacioretty, he deserves a suspension for the result of the injury, and the follow through of the head/collar bone area for at least 10 games.
Those are my 2 cents. I know everybody has there opinion, and I just want to make it clear that I'm not attacking Montreal nor Bruins fans, nor am I attacking Zdeno Chara. Like I said, this is the opinion I'm entitled to have.
If you have anything else to add or disagree with me I would love some feedback. I hope a speedy recovery for Mr. Pacioretty and his family (which were unfortunately there to witness the incident).
GO NUCKS GO!