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On the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty

March 9, 2011

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.]

20 Comments leave one →
  1. JippyCorp permalink
    March 9, 2011 9:40 am

    I have to say I personally don’t think there was intent to injure, I’m positive Chara’s intent was to smoke a hab along the boards (not kill them).

    That being said, it WAS a dangerous play and you’re right, as a veteran of this league (and the game in general) he should know better. I’d hope 3 games minimum.

    Another quick thought: if they ever bring in a rule to suspend a player for as long as his victim is out injured – do dangerous hits still happen?

    • theactivestick permalink*
      March 9, 2011 9:46 am

      Hey JP!

      I believe Puck Daddy had a bit of a debate on that very question (re: length of time a player is out determining offender’s suspension) a while ago. I don’t remember listening to the PD Radio podcast, but I for sure will look for it and listen to it now.

    • despisethesun permalink
      March 9, 2011 11:46 am

      This is my interpretation as well. He may not have intended to maim Pacioretty, but he did want to deliver the big, highlight reel hit and he did it in a spot that he knew was dangerous. If a person is driving a speeding car on icy roads and runs over a pedestrian, we still press charges against them even though they didn’t intend to hurt or kill anybody. Chara’s hit was reckless and negligent and the injury could have been avoided if he hadn’t done it. The intent doesn’t matter. He knew the risk and he did it anyway. And he should have to pay the price.

      • theactivestick permalink*
        March 9, 2011 12:00 pm

        I really like the pedestrian analogy.

  2. AngusMcCracken permalink
    March 9, 2011 11:46 am

    (Welcome back…missed you!)
    The hit was:
    -A dirty cheap shot
    -Dangerous as hell.

    It’s funny looking back at the spew of comments that Marchant made before the game yesterday, calling our Canadiens the cheap shot artists. Then this.
    The danger that we, as fans, now have, is in embracing this anger we are feeling, and letting ourselves lose control. We need to act appropriately in the coming days, when the verdict on what-if any-suspension is levied against Chara. If the term is too short for the general consensus, then by all means, be angry. Write blogs. Call your radio show of choice. But don’t lash out at Bruins fans at our next game. Don’t throw things at Chara next time he comes to town. Rise above, Habs fans.
    Concussions are becoming to frequent in hockey today. We need to find the root of the problem, and then instead of talking about it until the cows come home, bite the bullet, NHL, and FIX IT. Fuck the owners. These are peoples LIVES we are talking about. Not just now, but it’s been shown that multiple concussions can lead to degenerative brain diseases. Bob Probert is a fine example. Wrestler Chris Benoit, who suffered multiple concussions in his career, killed his wife and son, and then himself, because of post concussion issues. Is this the NHL we want? Where people are dying young from having their brains scrambled? I don’t.
    Hockey is a GAME. Professional or shinny, it should be *fun*. Last night wasn’t fun for Max, or his parents, who were apparently in attendance. If the Bruins have any class at all, especially given the injuries Savard and Bergeron have suffered, they will strip Chara of the Captains “C”. That honour should go to a player with respect, not just for his teammates, but for other players in general.

    • theactivestick permalink*
      March 9, 2011 11:55 am

      If we lashed out at Bruins fans or threw things at Chara we would be no better than the uneducated neanderthals they are.

  3. Harry M permalink
    March 9, 2011 1:09 pm

    Plenty of ‘uneducated’ neanderthals at the New Forum last night. Case being the thug who threw beer on TT. Time and time again the new generation of Habs fans show their lack of knowledge (not Active Stick) and lack of class when it comes to pure hockey. You people make the European soccer crowds look sane!

    Enjoy the 4-1 victory. When you people have a chance, just take a look at the hits Savard (career ending) and Bergeron took in recent years. Intent to kill comes to mind. Big Z is called the ‘Gentle Giant’ around here. We want him to play tough and within the rules. He played hard and the hit was well within the rules last night.

    Always a pleasure to hear from you Active Stick.

    • Roger LeCrotté permalink
      August 19, 2012 8:04 pm

      Your comment suck like a teethless O:”He played hard and the hit was well within the rules last night.” WTF are you?? Chara’s mom??? Can you really repeat that sentence 3 times in a row without laughing???

  4. Happy Girl permalink
    March 9, 2011 1:18 pm

    Welcome back friend! Missed you!

    I need to preface my comment with the fact that I hate Boston. I hate the Bruins. I hate all Boston sports teams so much that I’ve been welcomed into the homes of Yankees fans. I’m a Cubs fan so I feel really out of place amongst fans of teams that win occasionally. And I especially hate chara.

    With that said, I think the hit was dirty and I would like to see the NHL throw the book at Chara. They won’t. He’ll probably get a few games if we’re lucky.

    But think about this, the C4 vertebrae is the one that controls the nerves to your diaphragm which controls your ability to breath. Had this been broken and not fractured, Pacioretty would more than likely be on a ventilator the rest of his life – which would probably be drastically cut short because many people with C4 breaks die of pneumonia or other complications of being on a vent.

    You’re getting your ass kicked in a big game. You want to go out and make that big hit or whatever to change the momentum. I get that. But there’s a time and a PLACE for it and it’s not in a place on the ice where EVERY SINGLE NHL PLAYER knows there are dangers.

    As long as people in the league’s disciplinary clique keep that old school mentality and as long as GMs have certain players on their rosters, these types of hits will continue to happen. That’s the real shame here because Max Pacioretty was probably millimeters away from spending the rest of his life hooked up to a maching to breath for him.

    So thoughts and prayers to Pacioretty for a speedy recovery. I hope he’s able to resume a normal, healthy life.

    • Harry M permalink
      March 9, 2011 3:25 pm

      Happy Girl, you usually provide insightful comments to this blog. However, practice your screen name of ‘Happy Girl’ moving forward. You throw out the hate word like it is going out of style.

      Please continue to ‘Hate’ the city of Boston, its people, culture and the greatest fans in the world who are actually capable of handling a tragedy or two over the years. Big Z will continue to be a hard working player with exceptional talent and skill.

      Make sure you take a bath for 4-5 hours after each visit to a home of a Yankee fan. Poor you for being a Cubs fan. Good luck with that. Here is a nice little clip that pretty much sums up what Cubs fan stands for. It is actually very funny so enjoy!

      Long live Steve Bartman by the way.

  5. SensDew19 permalink
    March 9, 2011 1:24 pm

    Been too long, glad to have you back 🙂

    I’m sick and tired of this intent BS, it was a bad hit on a guy that did not have the puck and was in a vulnerable position. It wasn’t a great hard hit, it wasn’t an unfortunate bounce it was a plain out bad hit. I don’t care if Chara was an angel in a past life, he knew exactly what he was doing, obv didn’t want to snap his neck but I find it hard to believe his intents were completely harmless but like you said we’ll never know….

  6. March 9, 2011 7:00 pm

    First, I’m glad you’re back. That feels kind of icky to say, since you’re a Habs fan and I’m a Leafs fan, but I’ve missed your commentary on Twitter and your blog posts. I’m not privy to the behind the scenes goings on, but I’m glad you’re writing again.

    Secondly, as a hockey fan and a parent, I’m horrified at the league’s decision to do nothing. I won’t assume to know what Chara’s intentions were, be they malicious or innocent. I won’t blame Bruins fans or the city of Boston. For what it’s worth, I did feel bad for Chara after the hit, as I saw the demonization of him quickly snowballing online. He didn’t do much to help his case unfortunately.

    Most importantly, I am disgusted at some people’s opinion on the matter. Let’s remove the jerseys that color the opinions, and view these people as human beings. Max Pacioretty has trained his whole life to do one thing, and he may never be able to do that again. Although his public face has been a brave one, I would like to give Chara the benefit of the doubt in that I truly believe he’s horrified at the outcome of his actions.

    Sadly, there are no easy answers or quick fixes for this…

    • theactivestick permalink*
      March 9, 2011 8:03 pm

      Every once in a while, my blog decides to flag a Leaf fan as a spam commenter. This time it was your turn. Apologies.

      Thank you, I am glad to be back talking hockey again, although as I said a few times today, I wish it were about other hockey things.

      I am alarmed at the number of people calling for retaliation on Chara, or any of the Bruins, calling up a goon on March 24th, etc. The only retaliation any Canadien should be thinking about it taking the division lead away from the Bruins, or exposing them for what they are when playing them: a mediocre team with insane goaltending.

      However, the lack of any supplementary decision was equally alarming. Chara LITERALLY broke someone’s neck and got away with it. How anybody could defend Chara or let decision that happen is beyond me. Do I ever want Chara to get hit like that? No. But I did want him off the team for a few games or two. To think about what he did, and also so that they would have a gaping hole in their lineup for a few games down the stretch.

      • March 10, 2011 5:08 pm

        I agree. He should see some sort of supplemental discipline in the matter.

        I wish I could understand the NHL’s rationale on the issue…

  7. corey permalink
    March 9, 2011 10:19 pm

    Just another reason why I absolutely and utterly hate zdeno chara!

  8. Jillian permalink
    March 10, 2011 2:54 pm

    As Chara and Patches approach the edge of glass you can actually see Chara pushed Patches’ head even harder so that he hits it. Its obvious he intended it.

  9. Honebone permalink
    March 10, 2011 10:11 pm

    If this hit had been dealt any other place on the rink it would have resulted in maybe a boarding penalty. Chara didn’t hit his opponent in his head, the end of the team seats hit him…wrong place at the wrong time during an emotional game. Really hope he’s ok.


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