WILMINGTON, Mass. — In the hour or so before the NHL announced it would not fine or suspend Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara today for his hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty last night, one statement from Boston head coach Claude Julien said it all.
In defending Chara’s actions and overall character, Julien said:
“We’re sensitive to the player [Pacioretty] when it comes to that. At the same time, you have to support your player if you believe that it wasn’t dirty and it wasn’t intentional. And I believe that. …
“You’ve got to understand the other side. If that was one of our players, we would do the same thing. We would go to bat for our player. And that’s what they’re doing. I’m not accusing them of doing anything. They’re doing what they have to do and we’re doing what we have to do. Right now, it’s about belief and it’s about waiting to see what the league is going to decide on that. We have no control over that.”
The Bruins, as Julien acknowledged, have been on the other side of this type of incident a couple times in recent years with Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard. Back then, it was the Bruins calling for the other players’ heads and the other team defending the honor of their player. The role reversed last month when Daniel Paille hit Dallas’ Ray Sawada.
I won’t bother posting all the comments from Bruins players defending Chara. And I won’t look up links to Montreal quotes on the matter. We know that everything said in public is based on sweater color and in-season hometown. Fact is, no one will ever know what Chara was thinking. And if Pacioretty was unscathed on the play, there would’ve been no controversy and maybe no penalty.
Now we know the league sided with Chara and the Bruins on this matter. No doubt, the Montreal parties will not be satisfied. Such is life in the NHL. Sometimes there’s a measure of justice and sometimes there’s not.
Chara said he’ll reach out to Pacioretty when he has a chance to let him know he did not intend to injure. That’s the expected move from a solid guy off the ice.
Chara will play for the Bruins tomorrow night against Buffalo, and if and when Pacioretty can play again, he will.
We knew there wasn’t going to be an answer to this debate that would satisfy both sides. And nothing can take back what happened to Pacioretty. All we know — and all sides can agree on this — is that the league might want to look into removing a turnbuckle from the middle of a hockey rink.