Zdeno Chara Escapes Suspension: Did The NHL Get It Right?

March 9th, 2011 2 Comments

By now every hockey fan has heard National Hockey League Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy’s decision not to impose any supplemental discipline upon Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for what many NHL fans perceived as a questionable hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.

While we all feel for Pacioretty (who suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced fracture of the vertebrae on the play), the reality is Pacioretty was the victim of a hockey play and nothing else.

At a towering 6’9”, 255-pounds, getting hit by Chara is like getting hit by a truck at the best of times. The fact Chara inadvertently slammed Pacioretty into a glass partition just magnified the damage Chara is capable of inflicting on opposing players.

NHL hockey has been under a ton of scrutiny by the NHLPA, it’s fans, concerned players and executives for what is thought to be a lot of disrespect between opposing players, often resulting in dirty hits, or worse still, headshots.

In the case of Chara’s hit on Pacioretty, it was neither a dirty hit nor a head shot, two factors Murphy was quick to point out in a statement issued late Wednesday afternoon.

“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.”

For his part, Chara was apologetic for the outcome of the hit, but he was not apologizing for making the hit on Pacioretty.

NHL.com published the following statement from Chara regarding the hit:

“It’s just one of those things…like glass extensions, doors, even hockey nets are part of the game and obviously players run into them.”

“It’s just very, very unfortunate that a player got hurt.”

If anything was to blame for Pacioretty’s injury it may be the fact that the area he was checked into is severely under padded, but that’s a story for another time…

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens were facing each other for the first time since their brawl-filled match on February the ninth in which the Bruins and Canadiens were handed out a total of 182 penalty minutes, including 12 fights.

Needless to say, the Bruins and Canadiens rivalry (which goes back decades) has been in full effect this season, leading to much speculation about Tuesday night’s game.

The Boston Bruins and their fans have a long heated rivalry with the Montreal Canadiens and their fans, a rivalry which has seen numerous brawls and intense playoff rivalries over the years.

As real as the rivalry and bad blood between these two is, anyone who feels that Chara maliciously and intentionally went out on the ice with the explicit intention of injuring Max Pacioretty is just plain wrong.

This was not a pre-meditated incident and, contrary to some fan opinion, this was not another “Bertuzzi incident”.

To be fair, Pacioretty was throwing his weight around all game long. While nobody will ever say that Pacioretty had it coming, nobody will argue that Pacioretty was encouraging physical play from the Bruins, he just happened to be the victim of an unlucky set of events that caused a devastating  injury.

As only Montreal Canadien fans can blow an incident out of proportion, the Canadian Press is reporting that Montreal police were “inundated” with calls from angry Montreal fans looking to file a criminal complaint against Chara.

I am all for supporting your hockey team and its players, but calling the police in this incident was an act of stupidity, one that could have cost those that were in need of emergency services to be compromised.

Look, nobody deserves to be injured in such a severe fashion as Pacioretty was. Our hope (and the hope of hockey fans everywhere) is that he has a quick and successful recovery.

That said, the bottom line is this: the NHL got this one right…

To read more NHL news check out my website at theslapshot.com

Got a unique story idea or question? Contact me at theslapshotpucktalk@gmail.com

Until next time,



  1. p.o hockey fan says:

    I think it was a BS call and kinda feel like he bought his way out of it. To me it’s like the no hitting from behind rule. What’s the one thing almost every player does now going to the boards? Look around then put their back to opponent. Chara didn’t do it by accident watch the video his arms move up seconds before they got to the post. He was looking ahead he knew it was there. If you want head hits out of the sport but won’t take actions against a hit like Chara’s be it on purpose or not he should of had consequences.

  2. ssleung says:

    No, they didn’t. In fact, Chara also face an automatic one game suspension last year for a game misconduct in a game against Buffalo but that was rescinded too.

    There seems to be a double standard: if a star player commits this kind of act, the penalty is light to none. But if an enforcer did it, then they would throw the book at him (ex. Trevor Gillies).

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