The NHL has ruled this afternoon that they will not fine or suspend Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for a hit in Tuesday night's 4-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens that left Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with a fractured fourth cervical vertebra and a concussion.
Late in the second period, Chara rode Pacioretty awkwardly into the glass that separates the area between the two players' benches. Pacioretty was skating between the benches and Chara after moving the puck forward along the boards and Chara angled the young forward into the boards. Pacioretty took the body contact and collided head-first with the glass partition. The 22-year-old Habs forward's body immediately went limp as the Bell Centre crowd looked on in horror and concern as Paccioretty lay motionless and unconscious on the ice for several minutes while a medical team strapped the player on to a stretcher. According to reports, Pacioretty was alert and was able to move all four limbs when he arrived at a Montreal area hospital.
Zdeno Chara was given a 5-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit. The B's captain spoke with NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operationsvia teleconference early this afternoon to discuss the incident and possible disciplinary actions. After the call with Chara, Murphy released a statement on the incident and the league's decision not to issue a fine or suspension to Zdeno Chara:
I conducted a hearing with Boston Bruins' defenseman Zdeno Chara with respect to the major penalty for interference and game misconduct that he was assessed at 19:44 of the second period for a hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens.NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations
After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline. This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly -- with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards. I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous.
This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface. In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career.
Zdeno Chara spoke briefly with reporters following the team's practice today at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, MA: