Clamor on Causeway: Zdeno Chara, Headshots and Double Standards

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

Even now, almost 48 hours later, John Scott's run at Loui Eriksson on Wednesday night is on the mind of Bruins fans. The 6-foot-8 buffoon was suspended indefinitely, pending his hearing with the National Hockey League, and he should receive at least a handful of games for the hit he delivered to Eriksson.

It was, in every sense, the exact play the NHL had in mind when it penned rule 48. Regardless of Scott's intent -- I genuinely don't think he meant to do anything beyond hit Eriksson hard -- he deserves whatever the NHL brings down on him -- and probably more.

A day later, the Bruins managed to knock off San Jose, 2-1, despite being plainly dominated. Shots were 39-17. Attempts were 71-43. If not for the now-common brilliance of Tuukka Rask and some good old-fashioned luck, the Bruins would've lost by three or four to San Jose. Unnoticed for the most part was a hit in the first period of the game, Zdeno Chara followed through on a check to Tommy Wingels in the corner to Rask's left. The hit was hard, it was high, and it went uncalled by the officials on the ice.

All things considered, Chara meant nothing more than to do as he always has. He finished his check. Wingels pushed the puck along the boards a full second before Chara made contact. Still, Chara finished the play, and Wingels didn't return to the game.

Supplementary discipline exists for any number of reasons. It's impossible for officials to see everything, especially when they happen so quickly and, in this case, in such an ostensibly innocent fashion. Despite the obvious lack of intent to do anything other than make a hit, Chara deserves a game or two for his action.

Standing at 6-foot-9 and weighing north of 250 pounds, Chara's frame is a weapon. Wingels' head dropped just before the hit, causing the contact to the head. There weren't any stray elbows, nor was Chara's stick involved in the play. There was, however, contact to the head. Accidental or not, the simple reality is Chara delivered a headshot on a hit away from the puck. There wasn't malice, and it fits into the "hockey play gone awry" category. It also fits into the "headshot" category, so a suspension is wholly warranted.

This isn't even close to the hit Scott delivered to Eriksson on Wednesday night in Buffalo. The natural inclination of bitter Sabres fans and Bruins haters alike is to compare the two, and assume Chara's isn't causing the same kind of uproar because of stupid notions of NHL favoritism toward the Bruins -- par for the course for Sabres fans.

The league likely won't act with respect to Chara. Frequently, star players around the NHL caught in similar circumstances get the "he's not that kind of player" treatment. They receive the benefit of the doubt in the murkiest of waters because they're good players, their roles respected by everyone. (See Shane Doan for the best example.) However, this isn't the first time Chara, the NHL's best defensemen for the last five-to-seven years, has found himself in this situation.

The incident in Montreal with Max Pacioretty is the most obvious example, but there are a handful of other hits in his past. To say, unequivocally, that Chara intended to do anything other than hit a guy and take him out of a play in these instances is both incorrect and immaterial. When a player delivers a headshot of any kind, the league must review these plays. If Brendan Shananan and his minions do so and decide to treat certain hits differently based on the hit itself, that should be good enough for the rest of us. If they do so because of a player's role or star caliber, the league puts itself in a compromising position. Unless they just ignore the issue entirely, which they've never had a problem doing before.

Chara's only been suspended once, in 2005 for one game, and he's skated on a handful of occasions. He's not dirty on the level of Patrick Kaleta or any of the league's other menaces. His penchant for delivering the occasional tacit knuckle sandwich with the referees conveniently engaged elsewhere speaks for itself, though. This isn't uncommon, nor is it indicative of some widespread conspiracy to keep the Bruins happy.

Chara deserves a game for his hit to Wingels on Thursday night. He won't get it, though, because he's Zdeno Chara.

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