Well, that will teach me to procrastinate before writing a column.
It was my intention today to write about how I am 100 percent sure Max Pacioretty did not embellish his injury after he was hit by Zdeno Chara March 8, but that the Montreal organization still had some explaining to do.
As any of us would do if injured, Pacioretty has put himself at the mercy of the medical staff. They told him he had a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae, so that’s what he had. Everyone was praying and wishing him well, and breathing a sigh of relief he wasn’t in worse shape.
However, in the days after he suffered the injury, Pacioretty spoke on the phone to TSN’s Bob McKenzie and opened a Twitter account. Six days after the hit he was at a movie and the day after he saw “Hall Pass” and Tweeted his approval, he went to visit his teammates at the Bell Centre. Last week we found out he will start rehabilitating this weekend and could be cleared for contact as soon as three weeks from now.
Over that time, there have been whispers from people inside the Bruins’ organization and around hockey about how “severe” that severe concussion really was. You don’t have to a Bruin to know what Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard have gone through, or to know how concussions have affected the likes of Eric Lindros, Keith Primeau and other players around the league. None of these concussed players were at the movies within a week. And rarely would doctors put such a specific timetable on a potential return from such an injury.
While no one would go on the record over the last couple weeks, I intended to bring up those issues on my own today. And then Mark Recchi dropped a verbal bomb on the Felger and Massarotti show on 98.5 The Sports Hub today. Felger asked Recchi about the Canadiens embellishing the severity of the concussion. The future Hall-of-Famer responded.
“Obviously yeah [they embellished it]. He does have obviously a fractured vertebrae. But the concussion was obviously really a non-factor. Maybe a day or two; maybe a day he felt it and then he was fine a couple days later. I believe, yeah, they were trying to get Zdeno suspended and they embellished it a little bit. I guess in terms of that side, I mean you have to look at it as they were trying to do anything they could to get him suspended. And I think the league sent a message that it was a hockey play and that’s the important thing that people have to understand.
While explaining that over his career he’s been checked into the stanchion maybe 40 times, Recchi added: “That was an interference play at best and the partition got in the way.”
Well now that someone of Recchi’s stature has thrown the dirty laundry on the floor, it’s up to the Canadiens organization — through their own public relations department or through the Montreal media — to explain this situation and keep it from smelling from here to eternity. Stories about “Miracle Max” in the papers and online just don’t cut it. If this was an embellishment of an injury report to smear a player’s name and get him suspended, it’s not just fraud, it’s also a major insult to Bergeron, Savard and every other player in every sport that has suffered and continues to suffer from a serious head injury. And if it wasn’t an exaggeration, the Canadiens should explain what it was.
Again, it’s nothing personal against Pacioretty, who’s living his life and taking his doctor’s advice. And maybe there’s a medical explanation for such a rapid recovery from such a severe injury. If the Habs want to stamp out any doubts surrounding the initial assessment of Pacioretty’s condition, they should respond to the questions and then we could all move on.