Updated - Ex-Senators’ defenceman Zdeno Chara is public enemy numero un in Montreal. It didn't help that he escaped suspension completely yesterday. Chara hit Montreal’s Max Pacioretty near the players bench at centre ice. steering him into the boards at exactly the wrong place. Pacioretty’s head struck the glass partition, knocking him unconscious for several minutes. I was genuinely worried I may have just witnessed a death on ice.
He was removed on a stretcher, taken to hospital, where he was talking normally and had full movement. Thank god for that.
There is much debate on exactly how heinous the play was. You could certainly argue that Chara made a textbook play, finishing his hit, exactly the way he’s taught. You could also argue he steered Pacioretty into the partition and should be suspended under the league’s intent to injure rules.
I think Chara steered him into the boards, which you see all the time. But the rules don’t change based on where you are on the ice. On 99.5 per cent of the ice surface, there’s nothing wrong with steering a player into the boards. A fine hit. He made a standard hockey play. Did he know he partition was there? Maybe. But I don’t think that’s something you can prove.
The NHL cannot put a fixed object in the field of play then recoil with horror when someone is slammed into it. It shouldn’t be there. Get rid of the partition. It shouldn’t be there any more than a horizontal steel beam sticking out of the boards. The league took no action after Ryan Smyth was K.O'ed by Jack Johnson in similar fashion THREE YEARS AGO. Check it out. If Pacioretty cannot continue his career, the league is looking at a lawsuit.