NHL should be ashamed of its inaction in Pacioretty incident

As the protest outside the Bell Centre was underway on Tuesday, Max Pacioretty was still living with the repercussions of the violent hit he suffered at the hands of Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara. On the very next day, while people were still worried and mad, the NHL rendered a decision that left no one indifferent.

By now, you’ve all seen the hit, rewinded and slowed down.

After the game last week, Chara was nowhere to be found in his team’s dressing room. Reporters were only able to speak to him by dragging him out of the team bus. Some would qualify this as running away.

He tried to flee the scene of a crime. Wouldn’t this qualify as the behaviour of a guilty man? He told the media that the result was “unfortunate,” but did not apologize for his actions, whether they were intentional or not.

On March 9, Chara spoke to NHL vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy to explain himself. Usually, Murphy’s superior, Colin Campbell, is in charge of sanctioning players, but his son Gregory Campbell plays for Chara’s team. This would have been a conflict of interest. Chara was not suspended.

Are we supposed to believe that Murphy, better known as Campbell’s subordinate, took this decision by himself? That same day, doctors diagnosed Pacioretty with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra. While in the hospital, he was made aware of Chara’s fate and said that he was “disgusted” by the decision.

Murphy said he found nothing wrong with the hit and that Chara was simply “trying to angle his opponent into the boards.” Chara was facing the player and the partition before making Pacioretty’s head collide with it. The referees gave Chara a five-minute major for interference and a 10-minute misconduct.

Whether it was intentional or not, the referees felt this play had to be heavily penalized. I have been watching hockey for as long as I can remember and I have never seen a five-minute major for interference. We have all seen them for fighting, roughing and boarding, but never for interference. The referees penalized the player’s action, not his intent. The league felt differently as intent is the basis for suspension. Chara displayed poor judgment and should have been suspended.

Players are not held accountable for their actions.

Some people have said the hit was clean and it just so happened the partition was there. Had the hit been anywhere else on the ice, we wouldn’t be talking about it. Maybe Pacioretty should have been skating on the other side of the ice. This is the same train of thought is exercised by the NHL front office.

Who does the NHL work for? The owners. What’s the owners’ product? The players. Why doesn’t the NHL protect the owners’ product? That answer is still pending.

Did the league think there would be no public outcry if there was no suspension? Air Canada and Via Rail are now considering removing themselves from the NHL as sponsors due to what the game has become and how the people on top run it. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman doesn’t seem to care. Well done Gary! Who needs sponsors, anyway?


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