CRIMINAL?? I DON'T THINK SO

Jason Gregor
March 10 2011 11:31AM

The Zdeno Chara hit has sent the country, okay, mainly a few politicians, an airline, an entire province and now the Police, into a frenzy. It was seven years ago this past Tuesday that Todd Bertuzzi jumped Steve Moore and the reaction wasn't close to the emotional outcry that we are witnessing right now.

First it was the politicians trying to gain popularity. via the Toronto Sun:

"I simply don't understand what the NHL is thinking here," Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff told reporters after the NHL made its decision. "It's up to the National Hockey League to protect its players. It's up to the National Hockey League to protect all the young kids playing the game. It's up to the National Hockey League to act and I can tell you, there is strong feeling in the House of Commons that if they don't act, then, you know, we should get involved. No politician wants to get involved in this, it's not our business. But as a citizens, as a fan, I think it's outrageous."

The Chara hit came up during daily Question Period in the House of Commons minutes before the NHL released its decision.

NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, who has been pushing new legislation to reduce concussions and other serious injuries in amateur sports, told the House the Chara hit was more evidence new rules are needed.

Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn said the government had been consulting with national sporting organizations on the issue.

"It is something that we hope that the NHL also takes very seriously. This type of hitting is unacceptable," Lunn said. "We would do everything to ensure that NHL does not allow this kind of action to continue."

I'm sure all of us are happy that the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives are so concerned about the game. I'm not sure what new rule Thibeault would like put in, but based on their track record I'm sure they will follow up with a comprehensive study and actually try and do something to lessen concussions.

Or they might put as much work into reducing concussions as they have into making our criminal system more fair.

ENTER AIR CANADA

Then Air Canada sent a letter to Gary Bettman. Here is a portion of  it.

"We are contacting you (Wednesday) to voice our concern over (Tuesday night's) incident involving Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara at the Bell Centre in Montreal," wrote Vandal. "This is following several other incidents involving career-threatening and life-threatening headshots in the NHL recently."

Vandal noted the controversial issue is becoming bad for Air Canada's brand.

"From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, it is becoming increasingly difficult to associate our brand with sports events which could lead to serious and irresponsible accidents; action must be taken by the NHL before we are encountered with a fatality.

"Unless the NHL takes immediate action with serious suspension to the players in question to curtail these life-threatening injuries, Air Canada will withdraw its sponsorship of hockey."

Not only does Air Canada own the naming rights to Toronto's Air Canada Centre, it's believed they're a major corporate sponsor behind all six Canadian teams. Air Canada's head office is also located in Montreal.

Call me skeptical, but I wonder how much of this letter had to do with their head office being in Montreal, compared to the backlash of fans/flyers who choose West Jet because they aren't a major NHL sponsor? I might be naive in thinking that this is another case of head office pandering to the rationale and bias-free Montrealers.

AND THEN

Finally the Montreal Police got involved (via TSN)

Law enforcement got involved following a request by Quebec's director of criminal and penal prosecutions, Louis Dionne.

A spokeswoman for Dionne said that, after seeing television footage of the incident, he issued a recommendation to the provincial Public Security department that an investigation be opened.

The department then forwarded the file to police.

"The police investigation will be held. Like all police investigations, evidence will be gathered and an investigation report will be submitted (to the DCPP)," said spokeswoman Martine Berube.

"(The DCPP) will then evaluate to see whether there's grounds for prosecution."

Asked what kind of punishment could be assessed in a case like Chara's, she replied: "It's too early to say. That would depend on what charges are laid. That's a little difficult to predict at this point."

The move came amid a burst of outrage after the National Hockey League declined to suspend Chara.

Earlier Wednesday, Dionne's own office downplayed talk of a criminal investigation but hardened its tone hours later when the league announced no sanctions would be taken.  

I wonder if the Police in Montreal would have investigated this hit if it was a Boston Bruin on the receiving end? I'm sure the police would have been inundated with calls from Montreal fans livid that an innocent Bruins player was so maliciously attacked on the ice.

To me this is clearly a case where passion and biased emotion has taken charge. Politicians, Air Canada and the Quebec police are pandering to the highly emotional Canadien fans. I will be very surprised if any of these three factions follow through on their threats. Sure there will be an investigation, but I don't see any charges coming.

Air Canada has made their point with their Montreal flyers and I don't see them pulling their sponsorship, while the politicians will jump on the next hot topic very quickly and we won't hear from them until another borderline hockey hit, where a Canadian-based team has one of their players injured.

PARTING SHOT

Check out this Jack Johnson hit on Ryan Smyth. 

One of the biggest arguments/complaints surrounding the Chara hit is that he knew where the "turnbuckle" was and deliberately drove Max Parioretty's head into it. Did Johnson do the same thing here? Outside of Don Cherry showing it on CBC was it ever talked about as much as the Chara hit?

I know Smyth had the puck, but many of the Chara haters suggested his hit was intentional, so was Johnson who was facing the "turnbuckle" just as guilty?

I love hockey, and I love how passionate Canadians are about the game, but in this case too many people have overreacted and have made it more personal than rationale.

That is disappointing. 

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One of Canada's most versatile sports personalities. Jason hosts The Jason Gregor Show, weekdays from 2 to 6 p.m., on TSN 1260, and he writes a column every Monday in the Edmonton Journal. You can follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/JasonGregor
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#1 Soft Hands McSteeley - FIST Movement
March 10 2011, 11:34AM
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UHF MIGHT I SAY BACK TO BACK FISTS!?

Seriously a joke tho that this is being investigated because someone in high places is a Habs fan

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#2 Bryzarro World
March 10 2011, 11:35AM
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the fist thing I thought of is that it's criminal to charge the prices air canada does

Stupid phone

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#3 Leopard
March 10 2011, 11:36AM
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You might want to give some props to Puck Daddy today Gregor...

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#4 Hemmertime
March 10 2011, 11:37AM
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Ray Ferraro said it exactly how I think of it (god I love him as a color guy). It is ridiculous to think that Chara purposefully turn-buckled him, that would take immense skill, timing, and a murderous intent.

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So if Chara is found criminally reponsible what the heck does that mean in terms of hockey in Montreal? I mean if the league deems this fair play and this is criminally against the law in Montreal, then doesn't that force Montreal to pull their team?

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#6 james_dean
March 10 2011, 11:40AM
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chara is not a dirty player. 13 years in the leauge and this is the first infraction. the polititians should stay out of it. period. if it would have been an oiler player layed out it would be a different reaction. if you win quebecs vote you get into power ignatieff knows this.

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As for the Smyth hit and this one, I guess the difference is this one was deemed interference and that one wasn't. Either way 5 and a game is enough penalty for me.

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#8 Derzie
March 10 2011, 11:44AM
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Gregor, you sir are in a juvenile minority. This ain't MMA son. This isn't just about Chara, it's about Crosby, Richards, Savard, Moore and every other thing that taints hockey for fans. Keep the :being entertained by human suffering" to your MMA where it belongs.

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#9 blue31
March 10 2011, 11:46AM
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@Hemmertime

Rob Brown said after the game last night that Chara knew EXACTLY where the turnbuckle was. These players play a game at lightning speed. They react to things happening on the ice with reflexes that most of us couldn't even comprehend.

How can someone pick a 100mph puck out of mid-air and tip it past a goalie, yet not know exactly where he is on the ice at a moment in time?

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#12 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
March 10 2011, 11:57AM
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First. Air Canada has no place to lodge a complaint on how the NHL does business. Look at those A-holes. How many times has an AC flight been overbooked, delayed beyond belief. I know I've had up to 18 hour layovers because I was on standby even though I booked the flights 7 months in advance.

Second. If this was a Markov hit on Marchand/Lucic etc. Would there really be this much of an uproar? No.

Montreal fans are great but this is absurd.

It was a hockey play gone wrong. It was a 5 mins for interference penalty. Not a hit from behind, not a blindside check to the head, not a slash to the face, it was a rub out.

Sure Chara knew what he was doing, everyone who has played has tried to angle someone into the glass like that, but it hasn't been penalized before why now? Just because it was a Canadien? Yeah, that makes sense. *facepalm

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#13 Champ
March 10 2011, 12:01PM
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One thing that I haven't heard mentioned is if there's a safer way to make that corner. If there have been some pretty major injuries because of that corner, they should research ways to make that safer. In football, they put that huge ring of padding around the goal posts. Maybe a similar idea could be used in the NHL.

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#14 OilFan
March 10 2011, 12:02PM
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This is ugly. I hope this doesn't screw up the game we all love!!!

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#15 Oilers21
March 10 2011, 12:03PM
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If the NHL is really serious about getting rid of hits to the head then every headshot, whether intentional or not, should result in some sort of suspension. If a player hits another player with a high stick, whether accidental or not, he is assessed a penalty. If a player dumps the puck over the glass in the defensive zone, whether he intended to or not, he is assessed a penalty. So IF the NHL feels that headshots are more serious offenses than these, and they REALLY WANT them gone from the game, a suspension should ALWAYS follow if a player hits another in the head. The argument that a player "wasn't aware of his surroundings" is ridiculous; these players are paid millions of dollars because they are more aware of their surroundings than your average person. And to say that this would "take hitting out of the game" makes about as much sense as saying the NFL's headshot rule will remove tackling from football. Of course, if the NHL really DOESN'T want headshots out of the game, then by all means continue applying the arbitrary and puzzling method of punishment (or not) that we see today.

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Champ wrote:

One thing that I haven't heard mentioned is if there's a safer way to make that corner. If there have been some pretty major injuries because of that corner, they should research ways to make that safer. In football, they put that huge ring of padding around the goal posts. Maybe a similar idea could be used in the NHL.

Well that glass where MP was hit really doesn't need to be there in the first place. As for the other two turnbuckles maybe you remove a couple seats and round the corner like the corners on a NHL rink.

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#17 Dan the Man
March 10 2011, 12:04PM
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I'd like to think that Chara had no intention of taking Pacioretty's head off.

I do think it was a reckless and dangerous play but I guess there are a lot of reckless and dangerous plays in hockey.

I also think players should be responsible for their actions regardless of intent.

If the NHL is serious about player saftey then plays like this one should result in suspensions.

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#18 VMR
March 10 2011, 12:04PM
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That play will happen every single time whether the turnbuckle is there or not. If Chara lets up Pacioretty is in on a breakaway and no d-man is just going to let that happen, not if he expects to keep playing in the NHL.

Redesign the rink so you dont have a flat surface perpendicular to the ice, they should try and do something about the doors to the benches as well.

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#19 blue31
March 10 2011, 12:06PM
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Derzie wrote:

Gregor, you sir are in a juvenile minority. This ain't MMA son. This isn't just about Chara, it's about Crosby, Richards, Savard, Moore and every other thing that taints hockey for fans. Keep the :being entertained by human suffering" to your MMA where it belongs.

I agree. A hit should be administered with just enough force to separate a player from the puck. No more, no less.

Just because a player CAN use the full force of his size, speed and demeanor to hit someone, doesn't give him carte blanche to do the same. Part of being a pro athlete is being in total control of your body during competition.

Also, where is the NHLs culpability in the Chara hit? I've heard people blame Chara. I've heard people blame Pacioretty. Does someone have to be killed hitting one of these turnbuckles, before the NHL takes some responsibility for this disaster-in-waiting?

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#20 Zarf
March 10 2011, 12:07PM
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Here's a thought: How about looking into ways of re-designing/re-engineering the "turnbuckles" so they're not a safety factor?

I mean, I don't see a lot of point in debating whether or not Chara accidentally or intentionally hit Pacioretty into the turnbuckle. But I do think it's worth exploring innovative ways of making that area safer - I'm amazed that there aren't more bad collisions there.

Pretty much any body check - especially one involving a dude who's seven or eight inches taller than the other - ends up looking bad if that turnbuckle is there. I'd even suggest that if Chara's hit had taken place on any other normal, flat, square, boards-and-glass part of the playing area, it wouldn't have been that bad.

They put a net up around both ends of the rink ater that tragic death of the little girl in Columbus all those years ago - surely they can do something about that turnbuckle area to make it safer and less prone to accidents ... or intentional hits.

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#21 Kodiak
March 10 2011, 12:11PM
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I agree with those saying it wasn't intentional, but a 2-4 game suspension would have made the league look a lot better whether a suspension was deserved or not. I do think Chara knew where he was and he knew that what happened was possible. To me that warrants a few game suspension.

On the flipside, Pacioretty knew where he was as well and could have gotten off the tracks prior to getting tangled up with Chara. It's no different than guys turning their backs and getting hit from behind. Both are at fault and it is every players responsibility to protect themselves as well as each other.

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blue31 wrote:

I agree. A hit should be administered with just enough force to separate a player from the puck. No more, no less.

Just because a player CAN use the full force of his size, speed and demeanor to hit someone, doesn't give him carte blanche to do the same. Part of being a pro athlete is being in total control of your body during competition.

Also, where is the NHLs culpability in the Chara hit? I've heard people blame Chara. I've heard people blame Pacioretty. Does someone have to be killed hitting one of these turnbuckles, before the NHL takes some responsibility for this disaster-in-waiting?

How do you know how much force to use? Granted BOS and MON play quite often and Chara might've known, but say it's WSH and EDM does Jacques know how much it takes to get Ovechkin off the puck? Probably not.

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#23 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
March 10 2011, 12:22PM
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blue31 wrote:

I agree. A hit should be administered with just enough force to separate a player from the puck. No more, no less.

Just because a player CAN use the full force of his size, speed and demeanor to hit someone, doesn't give him carte blanche to do the same. Part of being a pro athlete is being in total control of your body during competition.

Also, where is the NHLs culpability in the Chara hit? I've heard people blame Chara. I've heard people blame Pacioretty. Does someone have to be killed hitting one of these turnbuckles, before the NHL takes some responsibility for this disaster-in-waiting?

Part of being a Pro in the NHL is to go 100%. If you want to see people lay off on their hits I'd suggest watching womens hockey.

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#24 freeze
March 10 2011, 12:23PM
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Didn't one (or more) of the Rock Em Sock Em videos have an entire montage of devastating turnbuckle hits? Seems like the act was celebrated in hockey circles at one time. Now, all of the sudden, its a travesty worthy of uproar? We've seen far more egregious acts on the ice go unpunished; let it go everyone. Hopefully the player makes a full recovery. The cops should stay out of this unless they want to start policing every contact sport. Players know the risks and fans love the violent intensity; until the players start making or requesting changes everyone else should get off their high horse.

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#25 Jeremy S.
March 10 2011, 12:25PM
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While everyone in Montreal was calling the cops complaining about a hockey game, 2 murders were committed, 3 people were robbed and a bank robbery happened. Thanks for using up those lines, I am sure the cops have nothing better to do then cater you children.

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#26 thebiggestmanintheworld
March 10 2011, 12:31PM
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Funny. The fact that Smid could of broken someone's neck with a stupid, dangerous hit the same night gets washed away. Also, the fact he only got 5 minutes, and not a game misconduct,for a play that looked a lot more intentional is a big part of the problem the NHL is facing.

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#27 Milli
March 10 2011, 12:32PM
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Ya, this is ridiculous!!

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#28 BrianSheva
March 10 2011, 12:32PM
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In my opinion, i don't believe that Chara's actions was a gross violation of fair play and / or the spirt of hockey. As previous comments have suggested, the NHL needs to do a re-think on rink design and reduce the chances of having a serious or perhaps fatal injury occur due to a physical obstruction.

To me what Dale Hunter did to Pierre Turgeon (the body check after the goal 92-93) or Claude Lemieux destroying Kris Draper's face in 1996 were more offensive in nature.

The speed at which this game is played combined with the laws of physics would indicate that violent accidents will occur. I feel sorry what happened to Pacioretty and i hope he has a full recovery but i believe he was a victim of circumstances and perhaps poor judgement at best.

2cents

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thebiggestmanintheworld wrote:

Funny. The fact that Smid could of broken someone's neck with a stupid, dangerous hit the same night gets washed away. Also, the fact he only got 5 minutes, and not a game misconduct,for a play that looked a lot more intentional is a big part of the problem the NHL is facing.

What's even funnier is the Flyers who apparently are a goon squad had many chances to lay Smid out, and for some reason they pulled a Dustin Penner and held up or layed of completely.

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Unfazed by Air Canada’s threat to take it millions in NHL sponsorship elsewhere, Commissioner Gary Bettman told the airline that teams might opt to fly with another airline.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/sports/hockey/bettman-unfazed-by-air-canada-sponsorship-threat/article1937056/

JeffMarek The 6 NHL teams spend between $2.5 - 3.5million per season each on Air Canada (AC JTZ) flights

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#31 Homie
March 10 2011, 12:39PM
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Dan the Man wrote:

I'd like to think that Chara had no intention of taking Pacioretty's head off.

I do think it was a reckless and dangerous play but I guess there are a lot of reckless and dangerous plays in hockey.

I also think players should be responsible for their actions regardless of intent.

If the NHL is serious about player saftey then plays like this one should result in suspensions.

Totally agree.

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#32 Horcsky
March 10 2011, 12:46PM
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@Champ

Yeah, I'm kind of with you on this one.

People keep saying they know this 'turnbuckle' is a dangerous part of the rink. Maybe it's the design of this part of the playing area that should be rethought? It's not even on the ice and it poses a danger to players. Kind of a poor design if you ask me.

It's kind of a question of where the problem lies, with the dangerous players, or the dangerous stadium?

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#33 mayorpoop
March 10 2011, 12:48PM
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I accept that this game is fast paced and physical, I can even accept the fact a degree violence is part of its nature What I cannot accept is the indifference to change, to enact corrective measures, to be pro-active and less re-active.

This controversy is not simply because of a Chara hit for me. It is the epidemic that is consistently harming players, through dangerous hits, and uneccessary plays.

As soon as the league removes "intent" as a means for decision and the arbitrary process on how they decide, the game be safer.

Who knows how Campbell or whomever makes these decisions? There is no base to go from, no guideline or standard they seem to follow. They arbitrarily decide intent....stupid.

You have to remove the right to determine intent from the rule book. Make factual decisions, have clear cut rules. I will go as far to say based on injury sustained. Responsibilty.

The facts are people get hurt, whether they intended it or not...don't care...stick with the facts.

In light of Bettmans most recent comments I will no longer purchase any NHL merchandise until there is clarity on the state of the game.

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#34 Chickenplucker
March 10 2011, 12:51PM
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@Oilers21

Chara's hit wasn't a head shot.

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#35 Slapshotzky
March 10 2011, 12:51PM
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Hey Derzie,don't disagree with jason unless you want to have your p#* p#* slapped. Better get yourself a radio show to compete with his awesomeness, I'm gonna cover my virtual head from gregors virtual punches to the face now....duck for cover. By the way I agree with this article.

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@mayorpoop

How much merchandise do you honestly buy? If fans want to prove a point, quite watching. I'm sure if all of Montreal quits watching for 1 game, things might change.

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#37 Oilers21
March 10 2011, 12:56PM
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Chickenplucker wrote:

Chara's hit wasn't a head shot.

OK fair enough...headshot or "guiding someone's head into a pole at top speed"

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#38 Mike
March 10 2011, 12:58PM
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Slapshotzky wrote:

Hey Derzie,don't disagree with jason unless you want to have your p#* p#* slapped. Better get yourself a radio show to compete with his awesomeness, I'm gonna cover my virtual head from gregors virtual punches to the face now....duck for cover. By the way I agree with this article.

So you agree with Gregor, but can't help yourself by whining that if you don't he will question you? You just proved why you are a poster like us, and not a host/writer. I'm amazed at how patient Gregor is with many of the dimwit callers and posters like you.

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#39 Wanye
March 10 2011, 12:58PM
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Chara is far too tall and he is developing a googly eye of late. In my mind this makes him guilty in every sense of the word.

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#40 bretzky
March 10 2011, 01:00PM
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Great article Gregor, I agree completely this whole issue has become very disappointing. It's business' and politicians sucking up to emotional Montreal fans. I agree with the NHL's decision not to suspend Chara. And I hope Pac is alright

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You know on the busiest hockey forum on the internet only 27% believe Chara deserved 5+ games. The outcry on this situation is just ridiculous.

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#42 spectorslegitson
March 10 2011, 01:06PM
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Gregor;

For once I am going to disagree with you. I usually am on the same page as you, and I was until I seen the hit from a different angle. The angle that showed me that this hit was viscious was the one where they show Pats coming towards Chara, up high and on Chara's back end.

What I dont like about this hit, is this. Chara was guiding him towards the boards, fine and clean. He could have finished him off by guiding him like he was doing and crushing him into the Canadiens bench. You cant argue that he wouldnt have done that either because he still would have got a penalty for interference if he did that instead of smashing him into the turnbuckle. The only difference is that its not a 5 min major and Pats wouldnt be out for the season. The problem I have with Chara's hit, is that he was guiding him out of the play, and at that last second decided to push him into that turnbuckle. You clearly see that from the other camera angle. If he guided him all the way thru to the turnbuckle and this happened (like the smyth incident above) then I think that is a hockey play and an unfortunate incident. However that last minute push, of a 6'9 255 lb defenceman onto a forward going full speed who is already being angled out is where I have a problem with that hit.

I dont agree with Air Canada and its threats as well as the politicians and police getting involved. But I think Chara should have gotten at least a 2 or 3 games.

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#43 mayorpoop
March 10 2011, 01:10PM
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Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach wrote:

How much merchandise do you honestly buy? If fans want to prove a point, quite watching. I'm sure if all of Montreal quits watching for 1 game, things might change.

Not much...does it have to be? A stance is a stance no matter the value involved. As far quit watching for a game done and done! I am a fan and I do help subsidize this league no matter how small that number maybe. WE as fans do make this league go it should not be forgotten.

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#44 Golden Seals
March 10 2011, 01:12PM
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This type of injury is to be expected. Players today are big, fast and can create collisions that are downright scary.

30 years ago, players I would guess weighed on average 25-30 pounds less than today. Factor in less speed and softer equipment and the chance of this type of injury was very rare.

Players today also have no fear. Why challenge Chara along the wall. This is a giant of a man who size alone should deter such attempts.

For me, the NHL and NFL both have the same problem. Bigger, faster players and head injuries as a result. Maybe it`s time to look at the size of the playing surface rather than a host of new rules.

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#45 freeze
March 10 2011, 01:12PM
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I hope this issue doesn't dominate The Jason Gregor Show today... I'm kind of sick of it echoing through the halls of sport.

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#46 Greg MC
March 10 2011, 01:13PM
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There is a history between Chara and Pacoiretty. Looking at the video I cannot say it was on purpose to cause injury, but my gut feeling is that Chara meant to inflict pain.

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#48 Pajamah
March 10 2011, 01:15PM
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While I agree with the tone of the article (as I'm interpreting it)

Politics, corporations, law enforcement etc. need to stay out of what is a hockey matter, I absolutely disagree that what Chara did was within the parameters of a penalty without suspension

Any hockey player knows the dangerous areas (chasing icing calls, cutting laterally at the blue line, in NHL rinks "turnbuckles")

Chara knew what he was doing, as illustrated by his fist in the still picture guiding Pacioretty's head into the buckle. Hockey play or not, Chara's intent was to hit him hard, and he knew exactly where the were on the ice.

Chara deserves a suspension, albeit a short one, but what he did can't be shrugged off as accidental, it wasn't accidental at all.

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#49 Starving Student
March 10 2011, 01:21PM
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The only thing illegal about Chara's hit was that it may have been interference. The hit itself was not overly physical, it was a defensemen rubbing out a forward. Routine play in hockey. It was the "turnbuckle" (don't turnbuckles require some sort of rope???) that did the damage. So why does he need to be suspended?

I too thought of the Ryan Smyth incident when I said the Chara hit. This isn't something new. It's just like Zarf had wrote, why not focus on the real cause and re-engineer a new "turnbuckle" where safety has been vastly improved.

What happens when a player gets checked into an open door (which has happened)? Will we be calling for the removal of hits because doors open? Come on people. Be better.

Avatar
#50 gabbana007
March 10 2011, 01:22PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Props
2
props

What no-one hear realizes is that the score at the time of the hit was 4-0 Montreal with less than 15 seconds on the clock (perfect timing for some retribution). The video being circulated over many media outlets is clear: The puck was long gone. Chara looked up, saw Pacioretty and with his arms, pushed him deliberately into the turnbuckle. A careless, reckless and dangerous play that has no place in hockey.

What no-one else failed to mention was that the last home game Montreal beat Boston, Pacioretty scored than skated towards Chara and they engaged in pushing and shoving. A reporter, working for Boston, was interviewed after the game and he said that Pacioretty should watch himself or else (a clear threat if you ask me).

Finally, the NHL is run by clowns. Maybe more companies need to take a stand and withdraw money from the NHL.

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