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.

Exhibit A:

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.

Exhibit B:

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.

Exhibit C:

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.


  1. Zdeno Chara is anything BUT a dirty player! I know that in Montreal physical play is frowned upon, however if you had to make a list of the top 50 most physical players in teh NHL, Chara would not be on it. Yes, unfortunately Pacioretty is in the hospital, and it was a violent hit. However this hit happens countless times during the NHL and the overwhelming majority of the time the player gets uip and skates off. It happeend with Milan Lucic against Tampa Bay in Boston last week, and the Lightning victim got right back up.

    This was an unfortunate instance that happened with the wrong team. Boston and Montreal always play with emotion against each other, and there have been some memorable fights in the past few seasons. It was a terrible accident, but you can't say Chara had any more intent to injur Pacioretty than any other hockey player has when they check someone into the boards.

  2. I agree with bosox1001. Chara's check on Max Pacioretty unfortunately drove him into the stanchion or turnbuckle or whatever that is. Chara is not a dirty player and has never been in trouble with the league, so he should continue to play. I hope Pacioretty makes a speedy recovery from this disastrous hit.

    By the way, I’ve never heard of a five-minute major penalty for interference, which is what Chara received, along with a game misconduct!

  3. A traumatic head injury came as a result of an illegal play (interference). Shouldn't that be enough?

    I know Chara doesn't have the recorded history, but I have stepped back to look at what he's done through his career and he doesn't have a lack of skeletons in his closet.

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  5. I'm not sure if you'd be able to find the highlights for the game, but in the previous game between the two (the one with the 8-6 score), TSN even had a clip from the game where Chara delivers a pretty nasty two-handed slash to Pacioretty's ankle in front of the net. I don't believe he got penalized for it, though, he's a clean player, don'cha know.

  6. As a complete neutral I think Chara deserved at least a 2 game suspension because the intention was there. You can't say it's unfortunate that the hit was into the turnbuckle because every player on the ice knows where that is. His arm lifted Pacioretty straight into it and watching on TV we all thought he was paralysed. Both my sons who play hockey said it was intentional and were appalled at Chara. Politics in the NHL rule once more over compassion. It's a sad day for hockey.