Tuesday’s wish is a cinch – The Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty. In a game against the Boston Bruins, Pacioretty was ridden hard into the boards by Boston’s Zdeno Chara, and his head was smacked into the leading edge of the glass partition at the end of the player’s bench.
These types of hits are not uncommon, and they are always scary. Check at about 1:08 of this clip from December 1987, two such hits. (The second will infuriate Isles fans: Washington’s Dale Hunter intentionally slamming Calgary’s Joe Neiuwendyk head-first into that post. He was a dirtbag long before “finishing his check” five seconds after Pierre Turgeon scored, separating his shoulder.) Claude Lemieux infamously drove Detroit’s Kris Draper into the boards from behind, near (but not into) the separator between the player benches, badly hurting Draper and causing bad blood for years between the franchises.
Coming as this did merely days after an unpenalized cross-check to the head of Tampa’s Domenic Moore, delivered by Chara’s teammate Milan Lucic, this really leaves a terrible taste in the mouth of hockey fans everywhere. People were already screaming that Lucic should have been ejected and suspended for this:
For that matter, they were upset about this play from that game, where Lucic did the same thing Chara did, only to Tampa’s Dana Tyrell.
Now we get the Chara hit – and I’ll put the vid below the fold here, because it really is that disturbing:
And this screen grab sums up exactly what was so sickening about this play:
So, long suspension for that, right? Right?
No. In fact, the league gave Chara NO SUSPENSION for this play, just as it gave Lucic nothing for his dirty cross-check to Moore. Now Pacioretty has a severe concussion and a broken C4/C5 verterbrae in his neck, and his professional playing career may be over at the age of 23. And the league seems not to care enough to actually protect its players from careless, reckless, and senseless behavior – unless that behavior is caused by players like Marty McSorley, Chris Simon, or Trevor Gillies, guys either at the end of the string or who had no string to start out with.
Max Pacioretty, I wish happiness for you. And success in your inevitable multi-million dollar lawsuit. And if there’s any justice, this is the end run of preposterous judgment and feckless league malfeasance that finally gets Gary Bettman and Colin Campbell the sackings they so richly merit.
BTW – I’ve been hollering a lot about this at LHH – would it really be that hard to make that segment of glass work like a minivan door? Have it on a soft peg so side impacts dislodge the glass and it slides on a track along the boards. It would still stay in place on checks into the flat surface or when pucks slap off it, but hits to the edge would knock it free. This way the impact is absorbed gradually over a four-foot stop instead of abruptly. These guys can reach 30 MPH in full stride, without benefit of crumple zones or airbags; someone will be killed outright one of these days piling into that pole,and two inches of foam rubber ain’t gonna do jack about that.