Zdeno Chara's unfortunate hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty is the shot heard 'round the hockey world. Everyone is talking about it, from the Boston Globe to the Montreal Gazette, to NESN, to my Facebook friends, to my entire office. From what I've seen, opinions on Chara's intent are split right up the middle; it seems that the majority of those who don't think Big Z intentionally injured Patch think he should get suspended. I personally don't think he should be suspended, but I know he will be. Head injuries are the latest issue-du-jour in the NHL, and before that, hits from behind were the big one. While the hit Chara laid on Pacioretty wasn't directly to the head, a head injury resulted. Intentional or not, Z is screwed for at least a couple of games because this is the new NHL, where they make an example out of you as long as you don't play for the Pens or the Habs (Ribeiro's diving, anyone?).
Looking at the replay and listening to people say that Chara had to be aware of where he was on the ice made me think about things a little more. Was it a dirty hit? Late, yes. Dirty, I don't think so. Interference, sure. A cheap shot? I doubt it. A bonehead move? Absolutely. Had Pacioretty not been injured, we would have seen a two minute penalty at most. Throngs of people are saying that Chara knew exactly where he was on the ice and thus, hitting his opponent when and where he did was intentional and that he should have known better. Maybe, but conversely, should Pachioretty have known where he was on the ice as well, and maybe backed off of a big guy that he seems to have an unfriendly relationship with, knowing the turnbuckle is there and that an injury could easily occur? Maybe, maybe not. Also, if Chara hit him a step earlier, Pacioretty goes over the boards and it's a highlight for the sports reel. If he hits him a step later, Pacioretty hits the glass and it's a case of "same old". Is this stanchion even necessary? Why not remove that panel of glass all together? I think each team in the league can afford to not sell the couple of seats behind (that only douches sit in anyway) it if it'll save a few players from major, unnecessary injuries.
None of us can say what Chara's intent was, but in my opinion, he has had SEVERAL opportunities to injure Pacioretty if he really wanted to do so. In fact, being so much bigger than the vast majority of his opponents, Z has to play a lot more softly than his size and strength indicate he's able to. He's not a dirty player now, nor has he ever been. I think he wanted Patch to get up slowly, to teach him a lesson or two, but I seriously doubt that Chara actually intended on sending him to the hospital. I think the whole incident was unncessary and unfortunate. I hope Pacioretty is okay, and I don't want to see the Habs headhunting when they're here in a couple weeks.
What are your thoughts? How long do you think we'll be without him? I'm thinking four games, although I'd like the number to be zero.