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Max Pacioretty speaks out on Chara hit, lack of punishment: “I am disgusted with the league”

Mar 10, 2011, 12:36 AM EDT

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We’ve heard from just about everyone concerning the hit taken by Montreal’s Max Pacioretty from Boston’s Zdeno Chara. We’ve heard from Chara, we’ve heard from the Canadiens players, we’ve heard from the NHL when they didn’t fine or suspend Chara, and we’ve heard nothing controversial from Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier. We’ve even heard from Air Canada as they’re threatening to withdraw their sponsorship of the NHL in the wake of this incident.

Everyone’s had their say on this except for Pacioretty himself until tonight.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie was able to speak with Pacioretty in the Montreal hospital he’s being observed at after suffering a broken vertebra and a severe concussion from the hit he took from Chara. In the past with controversial hits, we’ve seen NHL players either express a very reasoned and tactful sentiment or just say nothing at all about what’s happened. Pacioretty did not hold back on his feelings regarding both Chara and the hit and the NHL for not taking action against him.

On the hit itself from Chara, Pacioretty feels the hit was dirty and that Chara was trying to hurt him.

“I heard (Chara) said he didn’t mean to do it. I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he’s talking about how I jumped up or something.”

“I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn’t a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle.”

As for the NHL, Pacioretty saved his harshest criticism for the league.

“I am upset and disgusted that the league didn’t think enough of (the hit) to suspend him,” Pacioretty told TSN. “I’m not mad for myself, I’m mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it’s okay, they won’t be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.

“It’s been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I’ve got a fractured vertebrae, I’m in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something,” said Pacioretty.

“I’m not talking a big number, I don’t know, one game, two games, three games…whatever, but something to show that it’s not right.”

You can’t fault Pacioretty for being angry at all. I think if it was any of us who were put in that position we’d be angry as well. After all, Pacioretty isn’t sure if he’ll be able to come back from this. Broken vertebra and a severe concussion are two horrible injuries to try and bounce back from. We’ve seen players miss weeks of action with mild or light concussions just this season alone, never mind a severe one.

His words on this matter, however, will do nothing to calm the hot tempers raging in Montreal and elsewhere around the league over this hit. After all, when the victim of the hit is this angry about everything involving the play, it says a lot about where the respect level is for the players off the ice as much as it does on it.

  1. hulkhogan69 - Mar 10, 2011 at 2:08 AM

  2. derpdederpdederp - Mar 10, 2011 at 2:10 AM

    good for the nhl for making the right call here. ive had enough of players being penalized and suspended for hits that result in an injury. at the speed both players were going at there is absolutely no way chara could have intentionally tried to slam this guys head into the turnbuckle. thats just a ridiculous statement. hitting is a big part of this game and if every player who throws a hit that results in an injury gets suspended then the nhl will be well on its way to being indistinguishable from women hockey

  3. stakex - Mar 10, 2011 at 2:24 AM

    I’ve watched the hit 15 or so times. It was interference alright, but the question is did Chara act recklessly or try to hurt Pacioretty. The answer, at least from the video, is absolutely not. If you pay close attention Chara never trys to “guide his head into the turnbuckle” like Pacioretty claims. Yes, Chara did give him a push in that direction… but really hes just finishing his check. Watch any hockey game, and you’ll see the same play a dozen times a period. This time however, Paciorettys head happened to hit the turnbuckle. Also it should be noted that the play happened so fast, the odds that Chara actually had time to say to himself “Gee, lets put his head into the glass….” are pretty damn slim.

    Now, we’ve been hear before. Cindy Crysby whinned about the league not acting when he was hurt, yet almost all experts agreed neither hit was suspendable. We are seeing the same thing here. The injured player is going to town on the league because there was no suspension… yet most people who actually know (and have played) hockey see nothing at all wrong with the hit, other then it being interference of course. Its understandable that a player sitting at home with a headache every day, or in this case laying in the hospital after surgury, certainly aren’t happy and want someone to pay. However, when you play a physical full contact sport injuries are going to happen. Just because someone gets hurt on a play, they should not automatically scream for blood.

    There are times when a suspension is needed (like you know, when Matt Cook intentionaly ended mark Savards career…) and the league fails to act. This however, was not one of them. I really hope when Max Pacioretty is back on his feet and actually spends some time watching the video he realizes how idiodic what he said is… and appologizes.

    Btw: I’m a Rangers fan, who really doesn’t like Chara… so I’m not defending him because I’m a Bruins fan or something. I’m defending him because the amount of whinning from guys who play the toughest sport on the planet is really getting to me.

    • mtlcdn - Mar 10, 2011 at 11:38 AM

      Reconsider after you see the SI-com/nhl photo of Chara pushing Pac. with his forearm into the turnbuckle. Yes he uses his arm to give an extra push, not his shoulder to make that hit.

      • derpdederpdederp - Mar 10, 2011 at 11:51 AM

        the hit happened in a split second, and that picture depicts a millisecond. at that point he is finishing the hit. how can you demonize a player based on that picture? its ridiculous. people like you shouldnt be allowed to watch hockey

      • mtlcdn - Mar 10, 2011 at 12:39 PM

        Obviously that photo was only a fraction of a second of the entire hit but it took 3-5 strides for Chara to get into that position. Boston was down 4-0, 15seconds left, Pac. was not in possession of the puck, Pac just about had Chara beat and Chara had a man back to help him. Chara knew where he was going and he knows where that turnbuckle is and should not have finished his hit, aside the injury it was interference not a clean play. Chara has it in for Pac. all because of a slight push to his back months ago.
        His forearm in that position at the end of the hit still speaks volumes. Again.. these players know the ice like the back of their hand, Chara made a bad descision and he should have been suspended.
        At this level of play NHL players are responsible for every action they make on the ice.

      • stakex - Mar 10, 2011 at 3:14 PM

        Yeah he gave him a push with his forearm… I don’t think anyone would deny that (I even mention it in my post), but that happens ALL THE TIME in hockey. Its natural to reach out and try to rub out a guy whos about to beat you to the outside and have a breakaway. Its called interference, and should bve a penelty. I guess though you might understand that better if you have actuallyed played full contact hockey at a fairly high level….

        Again though, the question is intent. You cannot infer intent from one single photo… nor can you infer it from the video. The video depicts a very common hockey play, that just happened to take place at a very bad location. Was there intent to hurt? Sure its possible, but you have to remember just how fast this play took place. You also can notice that Chara does not look up at the turnbuckle until right before the collision… meaning that this was literaly a fraction of a second decision if it was malitious.

        Put all the facts together, and I stand by what I said. Sure he shuved him… which happens all the time. That is not proof at all that there was intent to injur… just that hey were playing hockey. Combine the lack of evidence in the video/photo that there was intent, with just how fast this play developed and its pretty irrational to think Chara was trying to run him into the glass.

        Of course your going to believe what you want, but just because you believe something does not make it so.

      • saturn1111 - Mar 13, 2011 at 2:34 PM

        This is the right take. Everyone’s calling Chara’s hit a “check.” I’ve watched and played hockey since the early 70s, and never have I heard the use of one’s extended arm to manipulate an opponent’s head (turnbuckle or no turnbuckle) described as a “check.” Had Chara used the back of his arm instead, this would have been a blatant elbow to the head as well as interference. As it is, he used his forearm, and if the boards and turnbuckle were not so close, if they had a few more feet, Chara would have used his hand to the face, as he so often does.

        I really do think the league should have done more than they have.

  4. daveydawg - Mar 10, 2011 at 7:19 AM

    we should talk about another problem in the league– the montreal diving team. It comes as no surprise that the swim squad would be crying for major suspensions after this hit. We should put a blooper real up on all the diving they do (and don’t get called for). Even in this game alone– did you see Mara get shot in the face?! Must have thought the game was in dallas. (he got hit in the chest btw).

    Unless they want to make it a penalty to drive someone into the boards where there is no plexi-glass, this is not a penalty… I don’t even think it was interference.

    What I find shocking, knowing hockey players, is that anyone real hockey guy could be brainwashed into being such a whining, diving, cry baby.

    • psousa1 - Mar 10, 2011 at 9:55 AM

      Wow. I’ll say. The Canadiens are such floppers when I saw Pacioretty lying on the ice my gut reaction was “here they go diving again”. I was expecting him to come out for the 3rd period. Referees are hesitant to call diving penalties. As for the hit it was obvious – Chara and Pacioretty were both chasing the puck, the puck got ahead of them and Chara did interfere with his progress to get the puck. It was interference. No way did Chara intentionally try to hurt him. No way. He was up against the boards Chara interefered with him – that’s it. Awful injury but not intentional.

  5. polishpatriots - Mar 10, 2011 at 10:19 AM

    Maybe Max should take a look in the mirror. It wasn’t but a few weeks ago that he cross-checked Chara from behind after Montreal scored the game-winner in overtime. I never want to see someone get permanently injured, but the fact of the matter is that Montreal is a dirty team. Their constant diving has earned them no respect throughout the league, and when one of them goes down everyones first assumption is that the player is faking it.

    That isn’t on Chara, that is on Les Habitants. Maybe we need the Islanders to pound the Habs into submission to get them to change their ways.

    It’s no wonder why the French like soccer…where diving is an Olympic sport.

    • mtlcdn - Mar 10, 2011 at 11:36 AM

      I can agree that the resulting injury was not Chara’s intent.
      But Chara is responsible. He’s a professional NHL athlete paid millions and one of the elite players in the league. He know’s at every second where he is on the ice and the intent was to take Pac. out. At that part of the rink all players know there is danger and it didn’t stop Chara from making an illegal hit/interference. Check the photo on SI-com/nhl showing Chara’s forearm in Pac. Face pushing him in to the support post.

      If you call Pac. little push in Chara’s back after the OT win a cross-check then you have no idea what you are talking about. Watch the Vid on youtube “Zdeno Chara’s Reaction After Habs Win “.

      • derpdederpdederp - Mar 10, 2011 at 11:49 AM

        his intent was to ride him into the boards, not to try to kill him. that hit happened in a split second, and that picture is a depiction of a millisecond. you cant use something like that to demonize a player. if you believe chara had no intent you are right, but therefore he is not responsible as you also say. the nhl would be setting a dangerous precedent by suspended players every time there is an injury, which would be that we would start seeing clean hits being suspendible offences. once that starts happening hockey is no longer worth watching

      • johninpa - Mar 10, 2011 at 5:12 PM

        I would agree that he is responsible, even if there was no intention by Chara to harm him. They are pro’s, and they know exactly where they are on the ice at all times. Much like the adjustment NFL players are having to make, NHL players are going to have to make them too. If you are in a position on the ice that a hit may injure the player, such as at the turnbuckle, you have to alter your position or let him go. We as fans may not like it, but hockey can ill afford to lose its star players, or its big sponsors. The game has changed through the years, and it’s time for another. Guys didn’t like helmets initially, but I don’t think we would argue their benefit now.

      • derpdederpdederp - Mar 10, 2011 at 5:45 PM


        what a ridiculous suggestion to make. obviously youve never played hockey at a competitive level. these are split second decisions, you simply dont have time to say “uh oh, this plays a little close to the stanchion, better not make the play i would make anywhere else on the ice”. besides there are other areas of the ice where an injury can happen. does that mean we should ban hits on guys that go into the corners? or maybe ban open ice hits where a guy skates with his head down and gets popped? (see brian campbell hitting rj umberger in the playoffs) you cannot suggest altering the way hockey is played because you dont like seing players get hurt. injuries are an unfortunate part of any contact sport

      • derpdederpdederp - Mar 11, 2011 at 12:39 AM

        here it is. (gasp) looks like theres other areas of the ice players can get hurt. for all you suggesting players should avoid hitting near the stanchion, should players also avoid open ice hits like these? i mean the guy got concussed so where was the suspension? the sad part is the way the nhl treats hits resulting in injuries these days (with hypocrisy, inconsistency, and double standards) i wouldnt even be surprised if hits like this start getting punished. thankfully the nhl showed it was capable of some objectivity and made the right choice about chara. hopefully that sets a reasonable precedent

    • saturn1111 - Mar 13, 2011 at 2:37 PM

      “[Max] cross-checked Chara from behind after Montreal scored the game-winner in overtime.”

      Tell the whole story and don’t make things up. They were in the midst of celebrating a game winner and Chara, not liking the outcome, wandered over to the celebration and gave a shove. Max shoved back, but not with the stick, and Chara was facing him. Then they got into a scuffle.

  6. derpdederpdederp - Mar 10, 2011 at 11:33 AM

    i cant believe there are more supporters for a suspension than people realizing the nhl made the right decision here. its you bleeding hearts that are gonna end up getting all hitting and fighting taken out of the game. just remember this is hockey and hitting and fighting are pert of the game, which unfortunately means there are going to be injuries. if you can deal with that maybe you should pick a new sport to watch

  7. derpdederpdederp - Mar 10, 2011 at 12:52 PM


    youre right, it was interference. chara got 5 and a game for it. thats punishment enough and the nhl realized that. its funny how all the experts weighing in on this agree that while it was an unfortunate result there should not have been a suspension, yet armchair athletes like yourself (guessing from your comment youve never played competitive hockey) are calling for charas head. the league needs to focus on getting matt cooke style cheapshots out of the game, and this was not one of those. if you believe a suspension is in order every time a player gets injured i suggest picking another sport to watch, like golf or tennis. you bleeding hearts dont deserve to watch hockey

  8. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Mar 10, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Yes, sir. Let’s arm all the defenseman with six-shooters and let them police the game. It is clear that the game officials and league will do nothing about it. A more realistic solution would be the next time they play, the Canadiens should put five defenseman on the ice and just pound the crap out Chara.

  9. derpdederpdederp - Mar 13, 2011 at 12:47 PM

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