Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Take on the Chara Incident

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:


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.


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).



  1. I don't feel there was intent to injure. You said it yourself, "If this hit happened anywhere else along the boards the hit would not have been called." I think it might have resulted in an interference call (which was called on the play), but that's it. I didn't see the hit as vicious.

    The impact was another thing though. But, I feel it was a case of a unfortunate accident that resulted in a serious injury. I don't feel Chara should have received a suspension.

    If anything, I would like to see the NHL do something about the design of the glass partitions in between the benches. Have them curve off or something so there is not that severe impact potential. Why has there been no talk about that anywhere yet? I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often actually.

    As for the Bertuzzi comparison, I don't even think the two compare. Bertuzzi hunted down Moore (well behind the play) and then struck from behind. I don't feel that was the case with Chara at all. The puck had just passed and Chara was trying to block Max from passing.

    If every hit resulting in an injury led to a suspension, then slap shots from the point should be outlawed (see Daymond Langkow). The hit Chara executed happens all the time in the NHL. Why not suspend every instance of it then? To me, it's because it's not a suspendable act - a penalty yes, and Chara received one.

    Ultimately, this was an unfortunate accident and hopefully Max can recover from it.

  2. I forgot to mention. It was Max Pacioretty who shoved Chara after the OT goal. That's what I feel started the scrum.

  3. To tell you the truth I do feel the same about the intent of I said before, I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.

    As for suspending somebody for injury, I think it's obvious when a puck hits someone in the face that its not a suspendable offense (just like the zednick incident). The way it looks to me is that if the league wants to crack down on headshots (excluding stuff like pucks to the face etc.) why not start here?

    It's a borderline hit isn't it? Have we seen other borderline hits get suspensions? Of course, so when a guy fractures a vertebrae I think the league should take action. Given I might have gotten a little excited when I said 10-15 games but maybe like Max said to Bob Mackenzie just a few games to show that something needs to be done for future incidents.

    You are 100% right when you say that max started the screen after the whistle on the goal, I wad just explaining that there was bad blood between the two. Also, when I related the incident to Todd Bertuzzi, I meant to compare them because I thought that since Moore and Bertuzzi had history as well as there teams that it wa similar to Chara and the Bruins. But like you said, Bertuzzi's was an intent to injure after the play and that is unacceptable. That'd why if we knew for certain that Charas hit had the same intent it deserves serious action.

    Thanks for the input! It's nice to get different viewpoints from all hockey fans. In reality, we all just want to improve the game we love.

  4. Also I do agreed about fixing the glass at the benches. This should be a huge step forward in making that a safer place with padding or curving the glass like you already mentioned.

  5. That quote from Max about the NHL needing to do something...anything, made me think that indeed they do. The NHL needs to do something about the partition - not Chara.

    The one thing none of us will ever truly know is Chara's intent. Only he truly knows.

    A ton of people have speculated (myself included) but we can't base decisions on speculations.

    In the end, you're bang on about wanting to improve the game for all. That's the key.

  6. I agree with the NHL’s decision not to fine or suspend Zdeno Chara. His check on Max Pacioretty unfortunately drove him into the stanchion or turnbuckle or whatever that is. Chara is not a dirty player and has never been in trouble with the league, so he should continue to play. I hope Pacioretty makes a speedy recovery from this disastrous hit.

    By the way, I’ve never heard of a five-minute major penalty for interference, which was what Chara received, in addition to a game misconduct!

  7. My question is this: if two players get in a fight and one injures the other, should their be suspensions? In a fight, the intent is surely to injure yet no one is ever suspended. Just wondering what everyone calling for Chara's head thinks.

    It was a nasty hit, no denying that, and if Chara was suspended for a game or three, I wouldn't be upset. But it's a hit that happens a lot in a game, just in other parts of the rink.

  8. @Sportfan 1981
    Yup I agree with Chara never being a dirty player or having been in trouble with the league...
    That is another good point that people are making out there,Zdeno isn't known for it so we shouldn't assume that is was done out of spite.

    I get what you're saying but fighting I believe is a little different. Fighting involves TWO people willing to injure one another. An "attack" is only ONE person wanting to injure.
    I agree with you're comment about how hits like that in other parts of the rink wouldn't be called it's just unfortunate it happened there.

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  10. I agree with the fight comment to an extent. Sometimes players can suddenly find themselves in the middle of a fight, one willing, one not so much. Or it could be a giant mismatch.

    Do you think this would be such a huge story if Chara wasn't 6'9"? Or if he hit Tyler Myers checked Tyler Myers into the stanchion?

    How about this, would this even be a story if it wasn't Boston and Montreal? If this hit was between two fourth-liners for the Blues and Panthers, would it be a top story?

    It is LAUGHABLE that the Montreal police are launching an investigation? Don't they have more pressing matters to attend to? Listen, I LOVE the city of Montreal; I lived and went to college there for two years and some of the best times of my life were spent in that beautiful city. And I get that hockey is a religion there, but c'mon already. When you have ten dudes who are 6'+, 200lb+ of muscle whizzing around ON THE ICE supported by two thin blades of metal and are allowed to slam into each other, this stuff is going to happen. It was an unfortunate hit that resulted in an unfortunate injury.

    I am a Bruins fan who can't stand Pacioretty (he has a lot of Mike Ribeiro in him) but I am wishing him a speedy recovery because no fan wants to see that sort of injury.

  11. I don't think it would have been as big as a deal if it was between the Blues and Panthers. You're right because it's Montreal and Boston that just adds fuel to the fire.

    I do think it's ridiculous that the police are launching an investigation. Because like you said in hockey (or any sport for that matter) there is always gonna be unfortunate accidents, and most of the time they're unpreventable.

    P.S - Wow, with so many different opinions that have good back up...I don't even know what my clear cut opinion is anymore.

  12. I wouldn't compare this to moore-bertuzzi-incident, i would compare this to moore-naslund-incident. chara should get suspended, otherwise this could lead to a manhunt. fair or not.