Zdeno Chara's hit under investigation by Montreal police - ESPN
Montreal police started a criminal investigation Thursday into the on-ice hit by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara that left the Canadiens' Max Pacioretty with a severe concussion and cracked verterbra. Police said they are acting on a request by Quebec's director of criminal and penal prosecutions, Louis Dionne. [...] Dionne filed his request for an investigation after watching television footage of Chara's hit, Dionne's spokeswoman said. [...] Asked what kind of punishment could be assessed in a case such as 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." [...] Montreal lawyer Steven Slimovitch said: "When you get involved in a sport, there is a concept of acceptance of risk. The question is did Pacioretty agree to be hit in that kind of fashion by Zdeno Chara? Was the hit so outside the norm of what is found in the sport of hockey ... that it's not hockey anymore." [...] The hit drew criticism from Gary Lunn, the minister of state for sports, and others outside the league. Lunn called it unacceptable. [...] The league deemed it "a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface." [...] Pacioretty told TSN of Canada he was "upset and disgusted" that the league had not suspended Chara. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's OK, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt," he said. [...] Pacioretty told TSN he thought Chara was intentionally trying to run him into the stanchion at the end of the bench. "I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle," Pacioretty said to TSN. "We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle." [...] In a related matter, Air Canada has told the NHL it is considering withdrawing its sponsorship unless the league tightens rules to reduce potentially serious injuries.
I am strongly in favor of eliminating head shots, blind-side hits and intent to injure. But I have watched this video two dozen times and I don't see any of those things in this case. It's not a head-shot; he doesn't even touch the player's head. It's not a blind-side hit; the player is trying to skate around Chara and is in fact facing him when he catches the turnbuckle. Chara doesn't even finish his so-called check. He just puts his arm on Pacioretty's arm around the elbow. And I don't know how you can claim intent on that play without making several questionable assumptions, most of which, frankly, have to do with the outcome of the play rather than the play itself.
Beyond all of that, though, the Montreal police "investigating" the case is a joke. I have no dog in this fight. But does anyone really think the the moral indignation on the part of police (to say nothing of the fans and ownership) is unbiased?
If anything, the league ought to redesign the turnbuckle, so it isn't so hazardous.