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Zdeno Chara avoids suspension, Bruins blue line avoids further depletion

03.09.11 at 4:23 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara will not be suspended for his hit on Max Pacioretty. (AP)

After a whirlwind of online character assassination that started with 15.8 seconds remaining in the second period of Tuesday night’s loss to the Canadiens, Zdeno Chara learned Wednesday that while his reputation has taken a hit with some, his ice time will not.

NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy ruled Wednesday that Chara, who was given a rare interference major and a game misconduct after pushing Habs forward Max Pacioretty into a stanchion alongside the boards, would not be suspended. With Colin Campbell not allowed to weigh in on matters involving the Bruins, Murphy made a decision that infuriated Canadiens fans and have pleasantly surprised some in Boston.

The Bruins can now consider themselves fortunate. Whether or not you believe there was intent on Chara’s part — personally, the intent on his finishing his hit on Pacioretty can’t be debated, though nothing the B’s captain has ever done would point to him purposely tossing someone’s head into a partition — a loss of Chara for a game or two would have really hurt a Bruins blue line that is already hurting. Andrew Ference (lower body) just began skating Wednesday, while Steve Kampfer (concussion) is still at least a few days from returning. Subtracting a guy who provides an automatic 25 minutes would have further depleted the B’s blue line.

Now, the Bruins can focus on business as usual as they prepare for the Sabres on Thursday. Still, the debate in the public likely won’t end any time soon. Chara’s been called a dirty player, with many assuming Chara was trying to injure Pacioretty.

“It’s always easy to criticize, it’s always easy to attack a guy,” Claude Julien said after Bruins practice on Wednesday. “If you take time to look at the situation, if you take time to see what he has to go through, there’s always going to be a challenge for him. The big bully because he’s 6-foot-9, yet he’s never shown that more than he’s defended himself, he’s defended his teammates. He’s always been a clean player.”

Chara has that much going for him. The one suspension he has received in his career was for an instigator penalty late in a game back in his days with the Senators. Wednesday, he did all the right things. He spoke with concern for Pacioretty’s well-being, but noted that where the play took place is what made it so unfortunate.

“It’s just one of those things of those things like glass extensions, doors, even hockey nets are part of the game. Obviously players run into them,” he said. “It’s just very, very, very unfortunate that a player got hurt. You have so many different occasions over the years. The percentage of players getting hurt is so slim, so small, but it does happen.”

Now that everything’s official, all that is left to do is debate the ruling and Chara’s intention. Throughout the Bruins’ room, the character of Chara is not in question, and it seems the league agrees.

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