Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Hit was Late; Chara knew what he was doing - or he should have known better

This picture is from Habs Inside Out and has made its way around Twitter.

This was a cheap shot. Chara is an experienced defenceman and he knew precisely where he was on the ice when this happened. Pacioretty would have blown by Chara on the left side had Chara not plastered him.

Also this photograph suggests it was a late hit. However, the video evidence is quite compelling.

Chara's recent history with Pacioretty only makes this look worse. On January 8, after the Bruins had blown a 2-0 lead at the Bell Centre in the final minutes, Pacioretty scored in overtime. He then pushed Chara, who responded angrily and with aggression. In the next game, the aggression only continued.

Some argue that Chara is not a reckless player. Doesn't matter. He acted recklessly. The hit was late. The only thing Chara was separating Pacioretty from was a promising NHL career.

Chara referring to the hit as "unfortunate" is like saying Rosie and Donald have had a mild disagreement.

Even Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe writes that the hit is a problem in his piece entitled Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty difficult to defend.

Bottom line is that Chara knew what he was doing - or he should have known better. Either way suspend him for 15 games. However, anything above 2 games would be a surprise. There will be a suspension, though, as the NHL will not want to be seen as endorsing this type of hit, particularly with a recent cascade of violent on-ice incidents. As well, with its ongoing negotiations for a new TV deal with the U.S. networks, it will need to do something.

The NHL has repeatedly failed to set a clear standard as to what is acceptable. This won't be any different I suspect. It seems of late, we are having our stomachs turned on a regular basis with bloody and violent acts in hockey. This can't be good for the game, attempts to get a new TV deal and a move for a bigger market share in struggling markets.

In part, people are so outraged over this because they feel the NHL's indulgence of violent behaviour is a problem.

That sound of Pacioretty hitting the ice is a bunch of parents deciding to enroll their kids in something other than hockey. It's too dangerous, I hear a lot. Maybe not as much here (although some Canadian parents reluctantly keep their kids in hockey), but in markets where the game is trying to grow, parents may be looking away from hockey.

By the way, turns out Pacioretty's parents were in attendance last night.

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