Thursday, March 10, 2011
This is Hockey, Shit Happens
That picture is of Montreal Canadiens winger Max Pacioretty, who took a brutal hit from Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and lay motionless on the ice afterwards before being taken away on a stretcher. Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra, and Chara received no suspension or punishment from the NHL for his hit. In a time when everyone is criticizing the NHL for hits to the head, this is a terrible incident indeed.
Chara is being made to look like asshole of the year by the Montreal media, and since he’s managed to escape discipline by the League, many are accusing him of purposely attempting to injure Pacioretty on the play. The hit has generated tons of views on YouTube and TSN, and anyone with any kind of hockey knowledge can see that the hit itself wasn’t dirty one fucking bit. Reckless? Definitely. Chara is a huge man, the tallest player in NHL history coming in at nearly seven feet tall on skates, and has established himself as one of the most punishing defensemen in the League today. He’s also been in the League for a long time, which makes it kind of hard to believe he’d lay out such a reckless hit, but emotions on the ice are so heightened this time of year, and with the history both teams have (the brawl earlier this season both teams engaged in for example) and with both in a heated playoff race, it can be excusable as to why Chara wasn’t thinking with his head.
It has also been announced that there will be a police investigation into Chara’s hit, with the possibility that Chara could be charged for assault. This in itself is flat out ridiculous. Hockey is one of the most violent sports on the planet. I’ve seen players like Alexi Yashin and Donald Audette get their wrists sliced open by skates. Richard Zednik had his throat slashed by a couple years back. Bryan Berard practically lost an eye from getting the butt-end of a stick smacked in his face. Marty McSorley nearly decapitated Donald Brashear with his stick from behind. And last, but certainly not least, Todd Bertuzzi broke Steve Moore’s neck and faced assault charges and lawsuits as well; an event that this Chara incident just so happened to take place on the anniversary of.
Even though the NHL disciplinarian’s methods are sketchy at best (Matt Cooke could get away with murder just because he’s a Penguin), Chara’s hit didn’t look like he meant to injure Pacioretty, and the NHL agreed. It’s tragic, because Pacioretty may never be able to play again, but it’s a risk that comes with playing hockey for a living, and the sooner people realize that, the better the sport will be as a whole. I sincerely hope that Pacioretty recovers and laces the skates up again one day, and even if he doesn’t, I don’t believe that Chara committed any kind of criminal act.
One last thing, why is it that the only major press the NHL receives on ESPN or sports news in general revolves around something bad happening? I know that hockey is a niche sport, and that it’s probably one of (if not the) most violent around, but why does always receive such negative press for Christ’s sake? I truly believe the NHL should change their tagline from being “the coolest game on Earth” to “this is hockey, shit happens”.