While you re-watch Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty tonight to determine what supplemental discipline, if any, the Bruins’ captain should face, throw out all you know about the league’s tallest player.
Chara’s height and weight do not matter. His strength is irrelevant. That he’s a solid humanitarian off the ice, and on the ice is physical but clean isn’t relevant to this particular play. In fact, the only history that you might take into account is that Chara has only been suspended by the NHL once, and that was for a late-game instigator and fight in 2005 while with Ottawa.
The intent to injure Pacioretty with a late hit — and if you count to 2 Mississippi, it’s a late hit — might have been absent from Chara’s brain, but such a reckless play is going to injure regardless. In an effort to send a message to Chara and the rest of the league’s players, Chara has to be suspended at least one game.
If Chara didn’t know where along the side of the rink he was when he finished the check, that’s unfortunate. Hopefully, Chara will be more aware in the future. Chara said after the game that he did not intent to push Pacioretty into the glass there, and he’s to be believed. But the spot where Pacioretty hit just made it possible for the injury to be more severe than had he been hit along the half wall or in the corner. The hit was still the hit, and it was late and Pacioretty had no reason to believe he was about to get crushed into the glass. When a player is unsuspecting, he’s more than likely going to get injured if he’s then nailed by any player — never mind the mountain-sized Chara
Chara is not a dirty player, and pretty much everyone echoes those sentiments. That doesn’t mean he’s not capable of a dirty play. His team down 4-0 on the road in the most hostile environment for the Bruins in the league, Chara was obviously frustrated, which might’ve clouded his judgment. He wasn’t attempting to injure, but he was definitely trying to make a statement, and those two intentions got mixed together and the result was made more severe by where on the ice the play occurred.
Whether you want to classify it as dirty or just reckless, the hit resulted in an injury that could still turn out to be serious even if Pacioretty reportedly was conscious at the hospital and able to move his arms and legs. Missing the third period of a one-sided game doesn’t suffice as punishment in this situation. A one-game benching by the league would make it clear to Chara and the rest of the league that players have to be more responsible when it comes to hits away from the puck, regardless of where on the rink they take place.