MONTREAL – Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara will not be suspended for a hit that left Montreal Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty with a career-threatening neck injury.
Pacioretty suffered a fractured vertebrae and a serious concussion when he was slammed into a padded stanchion on the end of the glass near the Boston Bruins bench by the hulking defenceman during Tuesday night’s game, head coach Jacques Martin said Wednesday.
The league looked at the hit Wednesday and opted against suspending or fining Chara, saying he did not target the head, leave his feet or deliver a dangerous hit.
"After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline," NHL senior vice-president Mike Murphy said in a statement. "This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly — with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards.
"This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface. 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."
Pacioretty remained in hospital Wednesday after being stretchered off the ice following the hit in the second period of the Habs’ 4-1 victory at the Bell Centre.
The team says Pacioretty’s vertebrae is not displaced, meaning there’s less risk that the spinal cord was damaged.
“There will be no other prognosis for the time being, but he will obviously be out indefinitely,” Martin told reporters at the Bell Centre just before the team was scheduled to fly to St. Louis for Thursday’s game against the Blues.
Pacioretty, a 22-year-old forward from New Canaan, Connecticut, lay motionless on the ice for several minutes after Chara hit him.
Murphy, the NHL's vice-president of operations, will examine the case. League disciplinarian Colin Campbell had to recuse himself because his son Gregory plays for the Bruins.