The biggest debate this week has been whether Zdeno Chara should have been suspended or not for his hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. The outrage from Montreal and around the league has caused a firestorm throughout the hockey world. Patrick and Chris debate this hot topic…
Yes, he should have By Patrick Hoffman
There is an NFL lockout looming and yet, the sport of hockey managed to get yet another black eye this week by not suspending Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for his hit on Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty on Tuesday night.
There may have been no mal-intent, but this was a hit that caused Pacioretty to have a serious concussion (plus a fractured vertebra); and as many of you puck heads know by now, concussions are a hot topic in today’s NHL. These hits to the head are becoming a problem and the Chara hit on Pacioretty is just another example.
This was a perfect opportunity for the NHL to send a message that hard hits to the head, whether or intentional or not, have no need to be in hockey. No, I am not saying that hitting needs to be taken out of the game or anything like that; but what I am saying is that hits to the head can be lethal and dangerous to players out on the ice.
After watching replay after replay and seeing Chara ride Pacioretty into the partition, it is easy to see that whether he meant to or not, Chara definitely had Pacioretty's head in an extremely vulnerable position. Chara could have let go but he did not.
What is also alarming is that this hit may have been foreshadowed. If you're a knowledgeable hockey fan, you know that Pacioretty is a much lesser version of Pittsburgh Penguins' pest Matt Cooke. Pacioretty knows how to get under the opponent's skin and he did it well enough to agitate Chara in previous games played between the two clubs this season.
With that said, it did not give Chara the right to go ahead and elbow Pacioretty in the head. There is no place for that in this great game and ‘Big Z’ should have been suspended and/or fined for his actions.
No, the NHL got it right By Chris Tremulis
The NHL is a contact sport. Obviously, when we play contact sports as players or fans, we never want significant injuries to occur. Over the course of the season the NHL community and top NHL brass have heavily scrutinized every noteworthy hit that has led to injury. But that has left players and fans little clarity as to the proper discipline for the player initiating the contact.
The hit in question this week is the devastating blow that Boston’s 6’9” defenseman initiated on Pacioretty of the Canadians. As stated before, it left Pacioretty with a serious concussion and broken neck. The difference between this play and those hits that have been the topic of discussion this season is that generally most of the newsworthy hits and subsequent injuries have fallen under NHL rule 48 prohibiting illegal checks to the head and have led to suspensions for the initiating player.
Now, as much as we all want a speedy recovery for Pacioretty, whose hockey career may be in question, this was not a check to the head. Max’s head hit the turnbuckle between benches after being pushed by Chara.
This is a dangerous hockey play. Looking at the replay, it is a judgment call as to if Chara pushed Pacioretty with the intent of throwing him into the turnbuckle. The NHL determined that the hit should not result in a suspension. I agree. Now should potential changes be made to the rulebook and rink safety? Sure. But that will be something the NHL and the NHLPA will discuss in the offseason.
I highly doubt Chara – whose reputation has suffered as a result; and up until this point does not have a history of cheap hits – wanted this to occur. What Chara and fans do want is a quick recovery for Pacioretty and for him to return to the ice.
Our podcast 'RLD Hockey Talk' is LIVE every Wednesday afternoon at 1:00 ET/Noon CT. Some of our notable guests in past episodes have been Dustin Brown, Doc Emrick, John Buccigross, Dave Strader, E.J. Hradek, Elliotte Friedman and Jay Grossman.