Bluntly stated, what Zdeno Chara did to Max Pacioretty last night was break his neck.
Politely, along with a severe concussion, Pacioretty suffered a break in one of the seven vertebrae that help protect the spinal cord. Obviously, it could have been worse.
As it is, Pacioretty is going to need considerable time to heal and the league has a problem dealing with Chara’s actions last night at the Bell Centre.
He spoke with TSN’s Bob McKenzie from his hospital bed on Wednesday and said he thought Chara’s actions were intentional and he was disappointed the league saw fit not to punish him.
“I am upset and disgusted that the league didn’t think enough of (the hit) to suspend him. I’m not mad for myself, I’m mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it’s okay, they won’t be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.”
Chara ran Pacioretty into the stanchion that holds the glass that separates the Bell Centre player’s benches. There will be endless debate as to intent. However, in the view of the game officials, the check was deliberate and Chara was given a five minute major for interference and a game misconduct.
The event was so disturbing that many of the Bell Centre sellout crowd left for home before the start of the third period.
Now it’s in the hands of the league.
UPDATE – The NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murophy reviewed the incident Wednesday afternoon and decided no further action would be taken against Chara, ruling that he “could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous.”
The Canadiens, both players and coaching staff, were cautious in categorizing the hit. The strongest comment came from coach Jacques Martin, who called it a “dangerous hit.”
In a classic case of “blame the victim” Chara said after the game
“We were racing for the puck and battling for position, and the puck went by, I was riding him out, and it was very unfortunate that at the same time I pushed him he kind of leaned and jumped into the glass extension. It’s very unfortunate. I know we were somewhere close to the bench, but obviously it wasn’t my intention to push him into the post.
Entering into the debate will be the game January 8th at the Bell Centre in which Pacioretty scored the winning goal in overtime and in celebration collided with Chara sending the Bruin defenseman into a rage.
Here’s a view of the play in today’s Boston Globe that doesn’t go out of it’s way to defend Chara’s actions.