If there’s anyone that knows a little of what Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara feels like in the wake of the “turnbuckle” hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty, it’s Columbus forward R.J. Umberger.
Just three days after Chara’s hit, Umberger found himself in a similar situation last Friday, as his check on Los Angeles defenseman Drew Doughty forced Doughty’s face into the stanchion at the end of one of the benches.
Tonight, Umberger’s Blue Jackets and Chara’s Bruins will go head to head in Columbus, where the puck-drop is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Umberger explained his play to the Columbus Post-Dispatch, and expanded even more on the reasons a player just can’t be more “careful” just because he’s near a “dangerous” portion of the rink.
“I was angling the guy and trying to get him into the boards and it was so close to the turnbuckle that his momentum carried him into it. If I don’t make the play I get yelled at [from coaches] for letting a guy go right around me with so much speed.”
Doughty wasn’t seriously injured and even returned to play in that game. That probably spared Umberger more scrutiny. It also helps that Umberger isn’t a 6-foot-9, 260-pound beast.
Although he might be pandering a bit to avoid providing the Bruins with pregame bulletin-board material, Umberger sounds like a voice of reason:
“He’s not a dirty player. He’s just so big that things are different for him. He looked like he was making a hockey play. You can’t eliminate that play from hockey, but maybe try to make sure those turnbuckles are safer.”
The league is taking steps to examine the stanchions in all arenas and eliminating seamless glass in the handful of buildings that still have it. There are more steps to be taken to prevent another Pacioretty injury, but those probably won’t come until a little later down the road.