Sens stand behind Chara

BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:26 PM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. — While Zdeno Chara was feeling the heat Wednesday, his former Senators teammates stood behind the big defenceman.

Chara was not suspended after a hearing with NHL VP Mike Murphy Wednesday, and there was plenty of criticism from those who think the Boston Bruin should have been severely punished for his hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty Tuesday night.

Chara, who spent six seasons in Ottawa, is still well respected by Senators’ players, who spoke before the NHL’s decision was made.

“I don’t think it was intentional,” said Chris Neil. “He’s pretty honest out there. He’s physical and finishes his checks.

“That’s part of the game. He’s 6-foot-9 and on skates, he’s over seven feet. When he goes to hit you, his arms are at your head level anyway.”

Neil said trying to hurt an opponent by nailing him into the boards isn’t Chara’s style.

“If Z’s intentionally going after a guy, he’s going to fight him,” said Neil. “He’s going to be dropping his gloves and go after you. He’s not going to try to intentionally hurt someone. That’s not the way that he plays.”

Jason Spezza said Chara is difficult to play against, but he’s not vicious.

“It’s a physical game. Everybody is trying to hit each other, but I don’t think he’s trying to hurt anybody,” said Spezza. “Nobody likes to see anybody lying on the ice like that. It’s a pretty unfortunate circumstance, but I don’t think he did it on purpose.”

Matt Keator, Chara’s Boston-based agent, who was on the hearing call with Murphy, Chara, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and representatives of the NHLPA said Chara has no history of dirty play.

“He’s played over 900 NHL games, he’s registered over 2,600 hits, he’s had over 1,300 penalty minutes and he’s never faced any supplemental discipline for his play,” said Keator.

“This wasn’t a headshot. This wasn’t a malicious intent to injure. It was just an unfortunate accident.

“He feels awful, as all of us do, about (Pacioretty) getting injured.”


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