DALLAS ó Itís a sickening to think an NHL player would intentionally put another playerís career in jeopardy.
Even worse, another personís life in jeopardy.
(Granted, every time a player fights, heís doing just that, but the fighting debate can wait for another day).
Thatís why itís unfair to say Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara wanted the outcome of his hit on Montrealís Max Pacioretty to be what it was.
No matter how big, how strong and how intimidating Chara is, he couldnít 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, itís absurd for the NHL to not suspend Chara for his actions. Even if the NHL found no reason to consider Charaís ďhockey playĒ 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 playerís career in question.
Part of the NHL statement (see below) from Mike Murphy said: ďIn 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.Ē
So letís get this straight: Because Chara hasnít been suspended before, didnít jump or hit the player in the back and didnít actually make contact with Paciorettyís head, itís an OK play?
At worst, itís only a major penalty and game misconduct?
This isnít as absurd as calling Matt Cookeís hit on Marc Savard last season a clean hit ó the intent to injure was obvious in that case even if there was no rule against blind-side head shots ó but itís 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 ó therefore, itís interference.
But instead of just holding Pacioretty, which Chara did, the Bruins captain took it a degree further with a hard shove into boards ó a decision made worse because there is no glass where he starts the contact, sending Pacioretty head-first into the turnbuckle.
Weíll give Chara the benefit of the doubt and say he didnít intend for Paciorettyís head to make the first contact with the stanchion, but that was the end result nonetheless.
When the league rightfully suspended Washingtonís Alex Ovechkin for his dangerous shove on Brian Campbell, Colin Campbell told the Washington Post: ďIf you cause a player to be injured, then you have to be responsible for the play that youíre involved in, if thereís any carelessness or recklessness in it.Ē
Now, letís 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 didnít 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 didnít take it and will once again be forced to live with the consequences.
The Habs and Bruins face each other again March 24.
Itís scary to think this incident, which happened on the seven-year anniversary of Todd Bertuzziís attack on Steve Moore, could be the first step in another potential catastrophe for the NHL to explain.