Chara ruling absurd

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

DALLAS — It’s a sickening to think an NHL player would intentionally put another player’s career in jeopardy.

Even worse, another person’s life in jeopardy.

(Granted, every time a player fights, he’s doing just that, but the fighting debate can wait for another day).

That’s why it’s unfair to say Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara wanted the outcome of his hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty to be what it was.

No matter how big, how strong and how intimidating Chara is, he couldn’t dream in the split second he had to make a decision whether to shove him or not that Pacioretty would end up with a concussion and non-displaced fractured vertebra.

Still, it’s absurd for the NHL to not suspend Chara for his actions. Even if the NHL found no reason to consider Chara’s “hockey play” a dirty infraction, it was reckless and unnecessary.

Somehow, though, the NHL found a reason to find no fault in a play which has a player’s career in question.

Part of the NHL statement (see below) from Mike Murphy said: “In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career.”

So let’s get this straight: Because Chara hasn’t been suspended before, didn’t jump or hit the player in the back and didn’t actually make contact with Pacioretty’s head, it’s an OK play?

At worst, it’s only a major penalty and game misconduct?

This isn’t as absurd as calling Matt Cooke’s hit on Marc Savard last season a clean hit — the intent to injure was obvious in that case even if there was no rule against blind-side head shots — but it’s darn close.

For starters, Pacioretty is on the verge of gaining a step on Chara after chipping the puck past the Bruins defenceman.

When Chara makes contact, the puck is at least 20 feet away — therefore, it’s interference.

But instead of just holding Pacioretty, which Chara did, the Bruins captain took it a degree further with a hard shove into boards — a decision made worse because there is no glass where he starts the contact, sending Pacioretty head-first into the turnbuckle.

We’ll give Chara the benefit of the doubt and say he didn’t intend for Pacioretty’s head to make the first contact with the stanchion, but that was the end result nonetheless.

When the league rightfully suspended Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for his dangerous shove on Brian Campbell, Colin Campbell told the Washington Post: “If you cause a player to be injured, then you have to be responsible for the play that you’re involved in, if there’s any carelessness or recklessness in it.”

Now, let’s take into account the past history between the two players.

Chara and Pacioretty were involved in a tiff in the previous game between the Canadiens and Bruins.

To say Chara didn’t know who was in his sights Tuesday night would be naive.

Players know who is on the ice against them and whether they have a score to settle.

This was a chance for some retribution, and Chara took it.

The NHL had a chance to again make a point any player, star or not, must be aware of his surroundings at all times, even while making a reckless hit.

The league didn’t take it and will once again be forced to live with the consequences.

The Habs and Bruins face each other again March 24.

It’s scary to think this incident, which happened on the seven-year anniversary of Todd Bertuzzi’s attack on Steve Moore, could be the first step in another potential catastrophe for the NHL to explain.


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