Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why Zdeno Chara is a DISGRACE

Tonight was the game Habs and Bruins fans alike have been looking forward to for weeks. It was hyped up in the media for days; the Canadiens sought to avenge the beating they took during the 8-6 loss to the Bruins in February. Also on the minds of Habs fans was the fact that the Canadiens were looking to extend a 4 game winning streak, along with Hal Gill's rare scoring streak. From all angles, it was sure to be an exciting night of hockey...
The 1st period was an excellent one for the Habs. Early on in the period, we were treated to a great fight as Ryan White showed Johnny Boychuk that the Habs wouldn't back down, by defending a hit on PK Subban. The first period also saw a pair of goals from Lars Eller (I'd like to also add that AK46 had an assist on the 2nd one, officially extending his point streak to 7 games).

The Canadiens entered the 2nd period with the dreaded 2 goal lead. The Habs looked sloppy and took ANOTHER too many men on the ice penalty. Carey Price continued to play well, keeping the Bruins scoreless for another period, and 2 powerplay goals from Gionta and Wisniewski made it 4-0.

Then, things took a turn for the worse. With 16 seconds left in the period, Bruins' Zdeno Chara nailed Max Pacioretty into the stanchion at the Habs bench, completely leveling Patches and rendering him unconscious. Pacioretty lay motionless on the ice for what seemed like an eternity, while medical staff tended to him. He regained consciousness before being wheeled off the ice on a stretcher and taken to the Montreal General Hospital, where he was reportedly lucid, able to move his arms and legs, and not in any immediate, life-threatening danger. He was later diagnosed as having a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae.
The remainder of the 2nd period was added on to the start of the 3rd period, where Lucic scored the Bruins only goal of the game. Habs won 4-1, although the win was the furthest thing from the players' and fans' minds.

Now, I'm someone who thoroughly enjoys the rock 'em sock 'em aspects of hockey, but this hit left me feeling nauseated. When Patches hit the ice, I sincerely thought he was dead. I was sure 255 lb Chara had killed 196 lb Pacioretty. I sat in my living room, crying, praying for Patches to be okay. This wasn't a depiction of a sport I've grown up loving, this was an absolute disgrace. What's even more disgraceful are Chara's post game comments, in regards to the hit:

"We were racing for the puck and battling for position. As the puck went by obviously I was riding him out. Unfortunately at the same time when I pushed him a little bit, kind of leaned, jumped a little bit and just hit the glass extension. It's very unfortunate." (courtesy of CJAD's Abe Hefter)

That doesn't sound like the remorseful comments I'd expect to hear out of someone who accidentally inflicted a potentially career-ending injury on another player. In fact, he does not take any responsibility for his actions, deflecting part of the blame onto Pacioretty. This is what left me reeling. How you handle these types of situations is of the utmost importance, and Chara failed.

Despite the fact that Chara is a marquis player, I sincerely hope Mike Murphy will dole out a lengthy suspension, though I'm trying not to get my hopes up. I personally believe that the punishment should fit the crime, and the severity of the injury sustained also needs to be taken into account. The perpetrator should be suspended for as long as the victim who sustained the injury is kept out of the lineup as a result of the incident. Will this be the case? No. We'll be lucky if Chara gets a 3 game suspension, in my opinion.

Regardless, Chara's actions cannot be condoned. Pacioretty did not have the puck, and Chara lifted his arm to drill his head into the turnbuckle. He knew where he was, and he knew that the outcome of such a hit would be devastating. Doesn't Chara realize that there are kids watching, trying to be just like their favourite player? Players need to realize that they are role models for the next generation of NHL caliber hockey players. Moreover, as a human being, the ultimate goal of a hockey game should not be to target players with intent to injure. I fully believe that Chara intentionally did what he did, but I'll let you watch for yourself. You decide.

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