Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Zdeno Chara nearly decapitates Max Pacioretty
Zdeno Chara was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for this hit on Max Pacioretty, but does that punishment fit the crime? Short answer, no. Let's look at the evidence from this season.
Back during the playoffs last spring on April 23, Chara escaped a one-game ban for a late instigator penalty. The incident was iffy, since Chara's lone NHL suspension stemmed from a similar incident when he instigated a fight against Tim Gleason back in December of 2005. But, hey, that was a long time ago.
Here, at a game attended by yours truly back on January 8, after scoring an overtime winning goal, Pacioretty taunts Chara and the Big Z goes after him and creates a scrum after the game was well-over. Certainly, nothing against the rules (specifically, the "it's just hockey" rules) in this scrum, but it established a new chapter in the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry and some personal history between Pacioretty and Chara.
Two hits here on Mikhail Grabovski during a game back on February 15th. Both situations involve Chara leading Grabovski's head into the boards, and there's no way the second hit didn't cause a concussion. But, for a guy who isn't a repeat offender, this isn't one of those hits that gives a guy a record.
However, with two dangerous hits in less than a month, against a guy whom Chara has prior history against, action needs to be taken. The issue here is that it's a critical time in the season, and the son of the NHL's chief disciplinarian was not just taking part in the game, but he was on the ice at the time of the incident.
- Chara directed Pacioretty's head into the stantion, you can see in the video that he pushed off with his left arm late into the check. While he didn't direct Pacioretty's head, you knew what he was doing.
- Chara has targeted the head before.
- Chara has a suspension record, and it could have been doubled without a rescinding of an automatic suspension last season.
- Chara has a history with Pacioretty.
This should equal to at least four or five games, but, I wouldn't be surprised if it were as low as two or none at all, knowing how random and ineffective the NHL's Wheel of Justice is. Mike Murphy will be the disciplinarian on this one, but he's the guy who let Lucic off with no gameswith this sucker punch back in December.
Additionally, somebody should be suspended for forcing me to look back through Youtube footage which contains unnecessary audio of Jack Edwards.
UPDATE: Here is a damning-looking image that appears to be Chara leading Pacioretty's head directly into the stantion. Damning as it looks, the video from the other side clearly shows that Chara pushed off Pacioretty's body. This is an optical illusion, not unlike this famous hockey illusion, where angle makes all the difference.
Had Chara thrown Pacioretty into the stantion with his head, he should probably be made to hang 'em up for the duration of the season. If you come across that image, keep calm, and simply remember you've seen the video from the other side of the ice that showed, no, it was bad, but it wasn't that bad.
UPDATE #2: Zdeno Chara was NOT suspended for a single game while Pacioretty lies in the hospital with a broken vertebrae and a severe concussion, not unlike the injuries that ended Steve Moore's career seven years ago yesterday. In his statement, the NHL's Mike Murphy said that he "also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career."
Well, no shit, Sherlock. So the next time Chara does something as brutal and stupid as this, will you again be able to write it off because he has never received any supplemental discipline? Except for two automatic suspensions for instigating fights, and two deliberate headshots on Mikhail Grabovski and a history of playing on the edge, Murphy is right.
Max Pacioretty is in the hospital with a broken neck and a severe concussion. His parents were in the stands at the Bell Centre last night, and they could have watched their son die, and the NHL isn't doing anything about it.
Mike Murphy fully lacks the spine to connect with Pacioretty in this instance. Obviously, he doesn't know what one feels like, but he didn't really want to suspend the best player on his boss' kid's team for the duration of the season.
Again, Max Pacioretty is in hospital with a broken neck and a severe concussion, and the only penalty given to Chara was 20 minutes of a game that was already decided at the time of the hit.