Sunday, August 14, 2011

Montreal Authorities Finish Investigation On Chara Hit; Will Bruins Captain Be Prosecuted?

In one of the most ridiculous misuses of government authority in the sports world, police investigators in Canada have concluded their investigation into the hit that Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara, placed on Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty on March 8 (video below).

The hit knocked Pacioretty out of the game and resulted in a concussion and a cracked cervical vertebrae.  Pacioretty didn't play again the rest of the season.

NHL officials declined to suspend Chara after the hit, causing Montreal Canadiens fans everywhere to almost riot (hey, they're not Vancouver).  That's no surprise given the heated rivalry that has existed forever between those two teams.  Authorities in Montreal were goaded into turning this into a criminal investigation after the NFL declined to punish Chara.

Mike Murphy, NHL's VP of Operations, said this of the decision not to suspend Chara:

"After a thorough review of the video, I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline," Murphy said in a league statement. "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," Murphy added. "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."

However, this sort of "hit" into the turnbuckle  has been happening forever in hockey since they added it onto the boards and players are rarely suspended/punished for it.

It's highly unfortunate that Pacioretty got hurt, but that's hockey.  Until someone modifies the turnbuckle design, other players are at risk for a similar injury.  Prosecuting Chara would be a political move by Montreal authorities and be a detriment to the game.

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