Chara In Need Of A Message From The NHL

Pacioretty suffered a fractured neck and concussion from Chara's hit(Icon SMI)

It was a battle that had been anticipated for many days. After a huge penalty-laden game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins on Feb 9, there was a ton of specualtion about how aggressive this game would be between these long time rivals.

As the season is coming to a close and the battle for a playoff position intensifies, there was no doubt that tonight would be a game to remember.

Sadly —thanks to Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara — for all the wrong reasons.

It was clear from the very beginning of the game that Montreal came to get some retribution for the 8-6 loss they faced in February. Ryan White was the first to make that apparent when he took offense to a hit on PK Subban, who was crossing the blue line into the offensive zone. Barely three minutes into the game, White stepped up on Boychuk — who made the initial hit on Subban — and dropped the gloves. Apparently, as they say in street hockey, “Game On.”

But the reality of it was this, the Canadiens came to payback the Bruins with a solid offensive game and a solid defensive backup. They cycled down low, they moved the puck decently, but more than anything else, they played solid hockey.

As the game progressed, and as the Habs mounted their solid offensive game, you could see the Bruins getting frustrated.

Before the midway point of the second period, le Bleu, Blanc, et Rouge held a 3-0 lead on two goals from Lars Eller and one from their Captain, Brian Gionta. Then on yet another powerplay, James Wisniewski hammered home his eighth to make it 4-0 Montreal.

But just as the Ole’s began rising to the rafters of the Bell Center, Zdeno Chara decided to take matters into his own hands.

With a mere 16 seconds remaining in the second period, Max Pacioretty cleared the puck from the Habs zone and began to chase it up the boards. Chara who was clearly beaten on the play gave chase, and from behind, brought up an elbow and hammered Pacioretty into the stanchion of the boards head first.

Anyone human who was watching the game, must have dropped their jaw as Pacioretty crumpled to the ice unconscious.

The league has been especially adamant about blindside hits this year. So, how many more will it take before the league takes more drastic measures with players that blatantly ignore this rule?

I’m not calling Chara a regular goon— please, don’t get me wrong. But, there was clear intent to hit Pacioretty from a position where Chara could have easily pulled up and played the puck— which the Hab player was not even close to. Being down 4-0 near the end of the period did not require a hit like that, unless it was meant to send a message, or “inspire” the team, something the Bruins are known for.

There is a ton of speculation as to intent. After all, the two players have a bit of history since Pacioretty gave Chara a shove after the 3-2 Canadiens OT win back on January 8. But intent is almost impossible to prove. However, in my opinion— that’s mildly irrelevant.

Chara had no reason to hit in that situation. The puck was beyond the play. He should have acted like the veteran player he’s supposed to be and headed back into his zone to defend the puck, instead of rubbing out a player in that manner. What he did was reckless, dangerous, and inexcusable.

To top everything off, Chara was interviewed by CJAD radio’s own Abe Hefter (@hefteronthehabs on Twitter), where he said the following:

“”Unfortunate when I pushed him that he leaned and jumped a little into the glass extension”

A player of his caliber, regardless of intent or not, should show a little remorse, instead of placing blame. Although many say he was just doing his job and would never hurt another player, his actions do not reflect well.

I would never say beyond a shadow of a doubt that Chara was intending to injure Pacioretty. I wouldn’t say with certainty that he was trying to do something to maim another human being. But I will say this, he was more than aware that there was no need, under the circumstances, to make that hit. If he had laid back, there would not have been any danger of another Canadiens goal.

Instead, he made a gutless hit on an unsuspecting player — from behind — that could easily have cost that player his ability to walk, talk, play the game in the future, or even worse — to live.

When I wake tomorrow, I hope beyond hope, that Colin Campbell has the intestinal fortitude to send a message to both Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins.

More-so, I pray that Max Pacioretty is healthy and safe.



27 thoughts on “Chara In Need Of A Message From The NHL”

  1. Maybe a New Rule should be implemented. If you put a player out like this the opposing team should be reimbursed with a player of there choice? Now how much of this nonsense would this cure?? it would certainly make so real disapline

  2. I have to say this is like watching sheep respond to a sheep herder.
    Respectfully here I have to say this. Has it not occurred to anyone the unsafe design of the rink. No ,that can not be. Chara is a villain. So he should be arrested?? Really?? So where was all the out cry from Montreal fans or any fans of hockey over guys like Matt Cooke who is a Picasso of dirty hits. Just ask Savard! How about the recent actions of Gillies over on the Island? We can go back further in time to. Oh but that was not a Habs player. Well I charge the League needs to look at some safety problems. I think they did look at some dasher issues and a few others. But the Stanchion problem has been an issue for years. I totally understand Montreal Fans position. I have no doubt I would be ticked. I was when a couple of Goons helped end Neely’s career. I was when Matt Cooke wacked Savard. I think you need understand it is a hitting game. Personally these days I watch all the games I can. to see some of the injuries we see with the new NHL and it’s speed is disturbing.
    Bottom Line I see an overlooked safety issue that was not addressed that may well have not ended with the result that has Montreal Fans rightfully upset people beyond words. Our Prays are with the Montreal Fans.

    • FYI – being from Montreal, there was a large outcry about Cooke and others – but isn’t it natural to more strongly oppose a war when your own son is a casualty?

      • That’s a more than valid point Bruce. For people to think that people from Montreal would not react more-so to one of their own being hurt just isn’t realistic. Sad that they don’t think that people from Montreal have also been concerned about opposing players who’ve also been hurt. Thanks for leaving the thought … Greatly Appreciated!

    • I agree with Bruce. I was sickened at the Cooke hit… and the Booth hit really bothered me.

      And no strong position had been taken to curb this trend.

      Enough is enough. I think that now that it’s happened to one of the NHL’s most storied, profitable, popular franchises with an incredibly passionate fan base…. it’s time the NHL addresses this.

      • I too agree with Bruce. And thanks for making sure your voice has been heard by leaving a comment Yves.
        This is an injury that has been happening a fair amount in the league – sometimes with severe consequences, and sometimes with minimal injury. But the fact of the matter remains that the league has to find a way to do something about it. They were given a great opportunity after the Chara hit, and in neglecting to do so – failed miserably.
        Always a pleasure to read your thoughts. And I appreciate the support!

  3. I was one of the people watching from home who’s jaw hit the floor. I am so relieved that “Patio-ready” (our nickname for him) is going to be okay. I don’t know much about regulations, or what kind of message should be sent about this incident. To me, Chara really sent a message with his comment, that he didn’t really give two hoots about what happened.

    • Thanks for the comments Jo.

      I just finished listening to Pacioretty’s press release. He apparently remembers nothing from the time before the hit until after he was being taken off the ice by stretcher.
      He watched the hit for the first time today, and voiced strongly that he didn’t expect a huge suspension, but felt the league needed to set discipline measures at 2-3 games.

      Better comments than anything that Chara voiced at anytime over the past 24hours.

      Thanks again for dropping by!

  4. Great article Iain.

    I think NHL officiating should be more “results” based in case of head injuries. Just like high sticking calls are.

    I wrote about this on my blog this morning.

    • Hey Yves – Thanks for reading. I’ll have to head over to your blog and take a read.

      The sad part of it all is the lack of discipline by the NHL today. Curious if they’ll ever get it right.

  5. Today, I would be embarrassed to be a Bruins fan. Zdeno Chara makes me sick with his post-game comment, in a gutless attempt to protect his fate. What an example he makes, this captain. He epitomizes the sort of dirty plays we are trying to abolish…
    In fact, I am disgusted that the sport that I love has become a cash-crop for Gary Bettman and Co. who merely strive to make as much profit as possible regardless of other factors, particularly the health of the players. They want a quick game, big hits, and all this at the expense of young, talented players with their whole life in front of them – until they get drilled into the glass by a gutless, vengeful player like Chara.
    Speaking of which, a player like Chara should be stripped of his captaincy, this man is no example for his team or for any young hockey fan for that matter. His game jeopardizes the integrity of the sport, and it makes me sick to be a hockey fan tonight.
    I can not even imagine the poor parents, family and friends of Max Paccioretty tonight and what they must be going through. I can only wish them the best, but please … If the NHL wants to remain the face of hockey, they must do something to punish Chara so bad that it will hurt him as viciously as he hurt Max tonight. If not, it would be understandable that the players will feel that they have to take the vengeance themselves, by hitting the Bruins back the next time they meet. And then the game will go into a downward spiral of players taking revenge on each other since the League is not willing to do its primary job – protect its players.

    • Thanks for your comments Saladin … And I appreciate you reading as well.
      One thing that I think we all should be wary of is retaliatory plays in future games. As much as I see the reasoning behind the anger of fans and players alike, it’s important to realize that regardless of what the league imposes (or does not impose) on Chara for this disgraceful hit, vigilante action is neither the solution or acceptable behavior. I think that is one thing that the Canadiens can pride themselves in regarding their overall performance last night. They came into that game after the 8-6 loss that amassed 178 PIM, yet they were not vindictive in any way. They came to make a statement in the game of hockey – and that’s exactly what they did. There was no goon play. Even the actions of Ryan White was in defense of his own player – and that was settled within the first 4 minutes of play without further repercussion.
      Boston has earned a reputation for being a team that plays with their fists (etc) when they are unable to respond with their skates and sticks. They are known to stir the pot when they are down, in order to “motivate” their team to victory. Last night was a sublime example of that. I can only hope that Mike Murphy takes care of that in some fashion today.

  6. An interesting viewpoint and a well written article. However, although the result of the hit is horrendous and my thoughts go out to Pacioretty and his family, I do not think that there is a need for the league to ‘send a message’ about this incident.
    This hit should certainly be assessed by the league, but to make an example of one incident is, I feel, excessive in these circumstances and given the player involved. I say this from a neutral perspective being neither a Canadiens or Bruins fan. I’m sure the league will assess the penalty and give a suspension if they see fit, but the media response to this incident will give the incident more than enough attention and an additional punishment/message would not be necessasary.
    Personally, I think that this needs to open discussion about rink design more than about body checking. I would hope that more stringent regulation over this type of section between benches is forthcoming in the off-season.
    I also imagine that this will open up a whole lot of discussion about the instigator penalty. News stories are assuming that the check was some kind of repurcussion for Pacioretty’s rift with Chara earlier this year (although you would need to ask Chara that) but you have to wonder whether this would have been dealt with earlier, and in arguably a less severe manner, had it happened a few years before. But that is a discussion for another time.

    • Thanks for the comments Victoria. I greatly appreciate your read and commentary.
      To address those comments – I’m not sure how the instigator penalty call comes into play, but I will say this …
      Media response doesn’t compensate for NHL regulation. No matter what the MSM might have to say – it does not take precedence over the message the NHL needs to make.
      I agree that rink design has to be discussed, but that doesn’t change the fact that players who have been in the league are more than aware of these stanchions – and where they are positioned in an NHL rink.
      I really have no clue what you mean when you say “This hit should certainly be assessed by the league, but to make an example of one incident is, I feel, excessive in these circumstances and given the player involved.” … What do you mean by “The player involved”???
      If you’re meaning Chara …. what has he done to exempt himself from punishment?
      Thanks for reading and I appreciate the comments.

      • Thank you for your reply Iain.
        I agree that the media response does not negate the need for an NHL response, but I do think that the media outcry will affect the decisions of the regulatory board and that is why we will see a further suspension for this incident. I do believe that the vilification of Chara in this incident risks losing the more serious points of the safety of rink design in such a contact sport.

        When I mention Chara’s character, it is with reference to the need to make a message. Chara is not a player known for cowardly retaliation and in my opinion the league need to take note of that in making their decisions. If Chara were a repeat offender for these types of incidences then he may need to be ‘sent a message’ by the NHL, but given his character, I imagine that he will have received that message clear enough in the last few hours.

        My reference to the instigator penalty is in relation to other media commentary where the check is discussed as being in retaliation for an earlier altercation between the players that was unresolved at the time. The ongoing discussion about whether the stringent calling of the instigator penalty has shown an increase in injurous hits and stick work is something else that I believe needs to be discussed in the wake of any serious and newsworthy incident such as this.

        • I appreciate your follow up Victoria!
          I don’t necessarily agree with your point about the media though. They have cried foul before and had no response in direct position to what they are angry about. Crosby being hit in the Winter Classic being a case in point. And as much as I want to agree with you in regards to the vilification of Chara v rink design, 82 games are played by 30 teams throughout the NHL – if this was such a heinous design in rinks across the league (and I do believe that it does need addressed), then there would be far more injuries caused by such design. But in reality, players are aware of their positioning and act accordingly.
          I don’t disagree that Chara is not known for being a constant offender and wouldn’t lump him in with the likes of Cooke et al, but he is not necessarily the good Samaritan either. He is known for taking out his frustration on the ice – clearly a place he was in last night. Not to mention that he’s been quietly hunting Pacioretty ever since their altercation back in January.That brings us to your point regarding the instigator penalty. I’m really unsure how this applies in this scenario. In reading the Instigator rules, there is no carry over from match to match, so I’m not sure how this applies in this instance.
          At the end of the day, I still believe that Chara made a bold yet cowardly statement in last nights game. Down 4-0 and in an instance where “playing on” would not have resulted in the detriment of his team – he instead decided to do something that any schoolyard bully would be chastised for.
          Unfortunately, this wasn’t the schoolyard, and even more importantly, he could have taken Pacioretty’s life.

  7. Good read. I’ll admit this will be hard to decide on a suspension. The hit was late, it was a push (two handed), it was late in a game that was basically out of reach. There could be motive. But at the end of the day, I think he gets ZERO games. Which sucks! The NHL will say there was NO intent. Ohh and BTw it will not be Colin’s call it will be Mike Murphy’s.

    • Hey Gary – Thanks for the read and the comments. I sadly think you may be correct – however – I can’t see how the NHL can go zero games. It may not be the 5 that some fans may want, but I can’t see them negating it to nothing. Minimum 2.
      As for Campbell – absolutely right – it’s all in VP Mike Murphy’s hands.

  8. After seeing that hit it made me sick to my stomach. First off I will say that the glass shouldnt be there I mean how many injuries have we seen there? Too many to have them there! I agree 100% Campbell has the prime moment to send a very strong clear message. There are of course rivalries and hard hits its all part of the game but whats more sad is that the lack of respect in the NHL nowdays.

    • Couldn’t agree more Jeff … they are only asking for injury with the glass set up like that. and we’ve seen it happen to often. Having said that, I don’t question that Chara may not have known where that stanchion was in the play – but it was an irresponsible hit that could have been avoided. He made a decision to do something that was unnecessary and therefore should be held responsible.
      Thanks for swinging by, reading, and leaving a great comment – as usual!

  9. Well said about the hit, no doubt in my mind chara knew exactly what he was doing, dirty and unnecessary

  10. I totally agree with you. What happened tonight was horrible. I was speechless and tearing up. Thank God Pacioretty “only” has a concussion, it could’ve been way worse than that.

    Oh and I don’t think Campbell can do anything about the hit because his son plays for Boston.

    • You’re right – My error – It will all be in the hands of VP Mike Murphy due to the fact that Campbell’s son plays for the B’s.
      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment Sara!

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