Thursday, March 10, 2011

Kerrzy’s Notebook: Chara – The Aftermath

Zdeno Chara will be in the lineup for the Boston Bruins tonight when they host the Buffalo Sabres; Max Pacioretty might get to watch his Montreal Canadiens face the St. Louis Blues, but only on TV if anything.

Like it or not, that’s the reality in the aftermath of a disturbing chain of events on Tuesday that left Pacioretty with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae.

The NHL’s decision to not suspend or fine Chara was met with a lot of resistance across the hockey world and opinions were voiced on various mediums throughout the day on Wednesday. From what I read, a lot of people (myself included) were disappointed that Chara escaped punishment and saw this as just another example of the NHL looking the other way when it comes to dangerous hits, which they say they’re against.

Here’s what NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy had to say in handing down his decision:

“I 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… This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface.”

Not too be too critical here, but doesn’t that last sentence kind of apply to every injury that happens along the boards? Will the league say “the guy got hurt because he hit the boards face first and then crashed his head off the ice,” the next time a guy is drilled from behind?

Again, not to be too critical, but didn’t Pacioretty hit the stanchion and then the ice surface because he was pushed that way by Chara?

That’s certainly what it looks like to me every time I watch the replay! You’ve heard what I think about it and I’ve read what a lot of others (on both sides of the fence) think, but what is Max Pacioretty’s take on the lack of supplemental discipline? The Habs forward spoke to TSN on Wednesday, expressing his “disgust” towards the decision:

“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…I thought the league would do something, a little something. I’m not talking a big number, I don’t know one game, two games, three games…whatever, but something to show that it’s not right.”

He also said that he thinks Chara intentionally tried to ride his head into the turnbuckle, scoffing at suggestions that he “jumped.” He added that it wasn’t the traditional headshot, but he feels his head was targeted.

At the end of the day, only Chara knows if he meant to do it or not, but I’m sure he wasn’t trying to send Pacioretty away on a stretcher. It definitely looked to me like he wanted to ring his bell though.

You know who is really hurt by incidents like this though? Air Canada.

At least, that’s what they would have you believe. The Toronto Sun reports that a spokesman for the company wrote a “strongly worded letter” to the league on Wednesday, threatening to pull its sponsorship money out of hockey if the NHL doesn’t get tough on headshots.

According to Denis Vandal, the issue of concussions in hockey due to headshots is becoming “bad for Air Canada’s brand.”

What makes me laugh about all of this is that if Zdeno Chara hit Daniel Sedin, Taylor Hall, Jarome Iginla, Phil Kessel or Jason Spezza the way he hit Max Pacioretty, I don’t think Air Canada would be chiming in.

Whatever it is, there’s just something about the Habs that gets people’s blood boiling!

What do you think: Are you upset that the league didn’t suspend Zdeno Chara? Will you still fly Air Canada if the NHL doesn’t hand out more suspensions?

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