The great and powerful “Grapes” has spoken. So it’s time for everyone from Quebec and all the way west across the continent to calm down about the lack of a suspension for Zdeno Chara.
The Bruins’ defenseman did not receive any supplemental discipline for his hit Tuesday on Max Pacioretty, who hit face-first into the stanchion near the benches and suffered a fractured vertebrae and severe concussion. Tonight on Hockey Night in Canada’s “Coach’s Corner” segment, the esteemed Don Cherry presented his verdict on the matter.
“Here’s a guy, 6-foot-9, 260 pounds. For 13 years he’s never been suspended, he’s never tried to hurt guys,” said Cherry. “If he tried to hurt guys, he’d kill them at that size. There’s no way; you can’t give him [a suspension]. Well, why didn’t you give him three or four games? You can’t give him three or four games. It’s either you give him 20 games or you give him none. It can’t be a little bit.”
When pressed by co-host Ron McLean about the notion that at least a short suspension would make Chara think twice before delivering a “dangerous hit,” Cherry stuck to his guns on the matter.
“That’s ridiculous. A dangerous hit? He was just taking the guy out,” said Cherry. “That’s the same thing as if you take a shot and you hit a guy in the head. You shot the puck and you injured him, you’re a guilty party. Absolute nonsense. The league did it right this time. You either give him 20 games or you give him none.”
The segment also featured a montage of other “turnbuckle” hits that resulted in various amounts of injury to the players and rarely resulted in suspension. Cherry also showed his idea to have the stanchions rise up at an angle rather stand perpendicular to the boards.
As for Montreal owner Geoff Molson, who issued an open letter to the fans declaring his and his organization’s concern for player safety, Cherry had this to say.
“Your stanchions are turnbuckles. It’s a joke,” said Cherry. “Call all your players together in the dressing room and you say, ‘I want you to answer this honestly and don’t be afraid. How do you feel about playing 41 games with the seamless glass that ‘s this thick [less than an inch] and the boards in Montreal?’ Worst in the leagues for injuries. Ask them that.”
Well, when Don Cherry speaks, everyone listens. Maybe this will change the perspective of so many who are still up in arms and are even trying to get the authorities involved in a hockey matter.