While the owner of Montreal Canadiens decided the appropriate response to yesterday’s NHL decision not to suspend Zdeno Chara was to write a passive-aggressive open letter to his team’s fans, NHLPA Executive Directory Donald Fehr focused on the biggest issue in this whole mess.
Had there not been a “turnbuckle” in the middle of the hockey rink, this whole thing wouldn’t have happened, Habs forward Max Pacioretty wouldn’t be out for the season and Montreal fans would still just hate Chara because he’s tall.
Here’s Fehr’s statement about examining rink configurations:
“Player safety has always been, and continues to be, a great concern to the Players’ Association. In that regard, issues involving the boards and glass in NHL arenas have been a longstanding focus for the players. The serious nature of the injury suffered by Max Pacioretty in Montreal this week reinforces the importance of maximizing the safety in this area and highlights the need to look further into the matter. We will be inspecting the rink in Montreal, and elsewhere as needed, to make sure the appropriate padding is in place. We will continue to gather feedback from the membership, to ensure the safest possible work environment for our players.”
It would’ve been more professional and appropriate had Molson taken a similar tact with his message, rather than using his place of influence to fan the flames and act as though Chara’s hit and the league’s decision to not dish out supplemental discipline was some sort of affront to not just the sport but all of humanity. The holier-than-though statement from Molson completely misses the point. Every team has employed or currently employs a player that’s capable of executing dirty tricks, including the Canadiens. Whether you believe Chara’s hit was clean or dirty, a play resulting in injury has become pretty common in the NHL.
A more level-headed statement from a team owner would’ve wished Pacioretty well and then requested the fandom to tone down its rhetoric and vitriol. He should have had the class to remind people that this is still just sports, and there are a lot more serious issues in the world than one league ruling about a play in a hockey game.
I would expect that if there’s any justice now, Molson will be fined by the NHL. In a league where owners aren’t allowed to talk about the CBA and other business issues, using ones soapbox to criticize a league decision as one that “shook the faith that we, as a community, have in this sport that we hold in such high regard” can’t sit too well with commissioner Gary Bettman.