Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Updated: March 10, 9:10 AM ET
No extra discipline for Zdeno Chara
By Joe McDonald
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty, who suffered multiple injuries because of a Zdeno Chara hit, is upset the Boston Bruins captain won't be suspended, according to TSN.
Chara had a disciplinary hearing via telephone with Mike Murphy, the NHL's senior vice president of hockey operations, Wednesday morning.
"After a thorough review of the video, I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline," 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."
"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of [the hit] to suspend him," Pacioretty told TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's OK, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt."
Said Murphy: "I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous.
"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 was left with a severe concussion and fractured cervical vertebra, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said Wednesday morning.
"It's been an emotional day," Pacioretty told TSN. "I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I've got a fractured vertebrae, I'm in [the] hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I'm not talking a big number, I don't know, one game, two games, three games ... whatever, but something to show that it's not right."
In the waning seconds of the second period, Chara made a play on Pacioretty along the boards in front of the benches. Both players were moving at a high rate of speed when Pacioretty's head hit the partition between the benches and he was knocked unconscious. He was put in a neck brace and wheeled off the ice immobilized on a stretcher.
Chara received a five-minute penalty for interference, 10-minute misconduct and a game misconduct.
Chara said he described his side of the play to the league during the conference call.
"It's one of those things, glass, partitions, doors and even hockey nets are part of the game and players run into them," Chara said. "It's very unfortunate a player got hurt. There are so many different occasions over the years and really the percentage of players getting hurt is so slim, but that didn't happen."
Chara addressed the media after practice for a little more than a minute and explained the incident has been on his mind.
"It's been hard. Obviously, I feel bad about what happened," Chara said. "I'm trained to make a strong hockey play and play hard. It's unfortunate the player got hurt and had to leave the game. Obviously, it is on my mind."
Chara said he hasn't had a chance to contact Pacioretty, but he said he was planning on reaching out to him.
"I heard [Chara] said he didn't mean to do it," Pacioretty said, according to TSN. "I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he's talking about how I jumped up or something."
Bruins coach Claude Julien defended his player and the play but also made it a point to wish Pacioretty well.
"If I answer how bad I feel about [Chara] it's perceived about not caring for the other guy," Julien said. "The one thing everybody here hopes is that the human side of us wishes [Pacioretty] to recover quickly and well. I know Z is going through a lot of stuff right now and he's being perceived as a dirty player, which anybody who knows Z knows that's not the case."
After the NHL announced its decision, Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier said through a spokesman: "The NHL took its decision. And it's not for us to express our opinion publicly."
The Bruins believe that if the play that caused the injuries had occurred on another part of the ice surface, Chara would have received only a two-minute penalty for interference and Pacioretty would not have been injured.
"I look back at the replay and he didn't push his head, he didn't even touch his head," Julien said. "He rubbed him out and [Pacioretty's] head happened to hit the partition. That's the way we've seen it, looking at replays.
"You've got to understand the other side. If that was one of our players we would do the same thing. We would go to bat for our player and that's what they're doing. I'm not accusing them of anything, they're doing what they have to do, and we're doing what we have to do."
Chara also explained that he had no intent to injure, and the Bruins agreed.
"He said it, and I believe him that there was no intent to injure the player on that play," Julien said. "The location of the injury is what caused the damage and that's the unfortunate part."
"I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle," said Pacioretty, according to TSN. "We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."
When asked to describe Chara's style of play, Julien went out of his way to praise his captain.
"He cares about the game and he cares about his team and teammates," Julien said. "He wants to do well. When you're 6-foot-9 and probably one of the strongest guys in the league, you can't go out there and not utilize that to your advantage. He plays hard, but at the same time he plays clean.
"It's already a challenge for a guy like him at 6-foot-9 to keep his elbows down because the minute he lifts them up a little bit he's hitting guys in the head. He's made a real good adjustment in regards to that. It's always easy to criticize, it's always easy to attack a guy, but if you take time to look at the situation, and take time to see what he has to go through, there's always going to be a challenge for him.
"You have to support your player if you believe it wasn't dirty and it wasn't intentional. I believe that," Julien said.
The teams face each other in one more regular-season game, March 24 in Boston.
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Information from ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun was used in this report.