When I heard the news that Boston’s Zdeno Chara was neither fined nor suspended for his injurious hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, I was disgusted. Sadly, I wasn’t the least bit surprised. The NHL has once again failed (miserably) to dole out much-deserved punishment.
To recap, Chara sent Pacioretty head first into the stanchion (or turnbuckle if you prefer) between the benches late in the second period of Tuesday’s game. It was, to put it mildly, a disturbing sight (see video below). Chara received a 5-minute major for interference, rightfully so, and a game misconduct. Pacioretty received a severe concussion and a fracture to the fourth cervical vertebra. That’s right – Chara literally broke Pacioretty’s neck.
Which leads us to today’s disciplinary hearing, in which Mike Murphy, senior VP of hockey operations, could find “no basis to impose supplemental discipline.” Murphy wasn’t done, adding that it was a “hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface.” No, really? But wasn’t it Chara that guided the player directly into the stanchion?
Make no mistake: Because Chara is one of the best defensemen in the league and a former Norris Trophy winner (and maybe even because he plays for Boston), he did not receive any supplemental discipline. If this had been Matt Cooke or someone else of his ilk, they would have received at least 10 games.
In his ruling, Murphy said he also took Chara’s clean record (no prior discipline) into account. But what should have been figured into this equation was Chara’s past history with Pacioretty, which is rocky due to an early season confrontation, and the fact Boston was down 4-0 to its most bitter rival at the time of play.
The bottom line is Chara knew exactly where he was on the ice at the time of the hit. He was beat by Pacioretty on the play and opted to drive him directly into a dangerous area along the boards (late to boot) – not with the intent to cripple him, of course, but with the intent to make him pay a price – instead of simply hooking or holding him.
Not every head shot or check from behind is delivered with an intent to injure, but the aftermath of the hit is almost always taken into consideration come discipline time. Why should this be any different? Pacioretty has a broken neck. Chara should be held accountable for causing it.
Here’s the video: