On the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty
TAS note: Sometimes things come up that you have to deal with at the expense of pretty much everything else. Even hockey. I’m alive, and will be back as soon as I can. I’ve started on a gigantic pile of calls, emails and messages to return, with apologies, but if you’ve reached out to me to let me know you’re thinking of me or to offer support, or even if you’ve just wondered where I’ve been on Twitter, please know that it means so much more to me than you know. Special thanks to Amanda. She knows why.
First hockey game I watched since the Heritage Classic, and it started out pretty well. The Bruins were losing, as a shit team usually does when their goaltending isn’t superhuman. And then the hit happened.
If you haven’t seen the hit yet, please be warned that it’s quite disturbing:
It is a horrible, horrible thing to watch. The first time RDS showed it made me sick. The sight of Pacioretty motionless on the ice probably made more of us cry than we care to admit. “They’re taking his pulse, Laura, does that mean they think he might be dead?” Any subsequent replays made me angrier and angrier – when I saw the Bruins trainers/medical staff come out to help, I did not immediately think it was classy. I immediately thought, “they know it looks bad and they’re trying to save face.” I sort of came around. Sort of.
There probably has been and definitely will be an incredible amount of talk about this hit, and arguments and opinions will get thrown around for a long time.
The only things we know for sure are: There were under 20 seconds left in a period in a 4-0 game. Max Pacioretty did not have the puck anymore. Zdeno Chara hit him. From all the replays I have seen, he did not appear to have any idea the hit was coming. From a replay of the RDS broadcast, it appears as though Chara saw exactly where he was and exactly where Pacioretty was just as he was about to hit him. That was an incredibly dangerous spot of the rink in which to get hit. Pacioretty was taken to the hospital. Reports are that he was conscious and able to move his extremities on his way there.
Beyond that, we don’t know.
We can’t guess Zdeno Chara’s intentions, nor can we infer them from his canned PR-friendly (or unfriendly, as it turns out) quotes to the press. We might not know what’s going to happen to Pacioretty, in terms of his health and in terms of his career, for a while. We certainly can’t determine Chara’s intent from whatever punishment the league imposes (or doesn’t) on him.
So we can talk, and argue, and get mad, and throw things, and threaten each other (what?), but we just won’t ever know. Not for sure, anyway, unless Chara himself ever comes out and admits he intended to harm Pacioretty. Of course, if he continues to deny any intent to injure, there will always be doubters, but if he admits it? 100 % of us will believe him. Funny how that works.
Of course, we all have a right to our opinions.
Chara may not have a reputation for being a cheapshot artist and it is entirely possible that there was no malice in that hit, that it was 100% boneheaded.
But Chara is a veteran hockey player. You’d think he’d have figured out how to carry himself around the ice by now. Since he joined the Boston Bruins, the only NHL team that has played more games at the Bell Centre is the home team. Before he became a Bruin, he was a player on another team in the same division. He knows that ice. He has failed many, many times on that ice. He knows where the benches are. He knows where he’s going, and can see over everybody’s head.
Look, if the clowns on NESN know that’s a terrible place to hit a Hab, you have to know it, too.
I don’t know if you can exactly say there’s a history of bad blood between him and Pacioretty, because there’s a history of bad blood between him and every Canadien. If it hadn’t been Pacioretty, it would have been Eller, or Gionta, or Subban, or any Hab.
The facts remain that Chara has played hockey long enough to know where he is on a rink, that he knows this rink especially well, that there were less than 20 seconds left in that period, and that his team, which has a spectacular history of embarrassing failures against the Habs, even when the said Habs suck balls, was losing 4-0.
I don’t believe anyone ever intends to snap somebody’s neck in two, or, like, kill them. But I believe, and emphatically, emphatically so, that Chara knew where he was going, and knew that what he was about to do was extremely dangerous, and for that split second, he just didn’t care.
But again. This is just my own opinion. We will never know for sure.
As for anyone who defended that hit, please watch it again, carefully. Only this time, imagine your kid, your significant other, a sibling or another loved one in Pacioretty’s place. Oh wait, we can’t. That introduces emotion. So tell me then, was it the presence or absence of emotion on Chara’s part when he did what he did?
[Your coincidence of the day: March 8 is also the date of the Todd Bertuzzi hit on Steve Moore. Although you probably knew that.]