|Zdeno Chara insists he didn’t know it was Max Pacioretty at the time||03.10.11 at 12:10 pm ET|
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke to the media Thursday morning, doing so for the first time since learning that he would not be suspended for his hit that left Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty hospitalized with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrea. Following the ruling, Pacioretty lashed out to TSN, saying the he was “disgusted” that Chara, who he felt intended to injure him, was not punished.
“I mean, I totally understand,” Chara said of Pacioretty’s reaction to the ruling. “He’s in the hospital, so he’s got the right to be emotional, and I respect that. I obviously feel bad that he got hurt. As a player, as a hockey player, we all feel bad when something like that happens. It doesn’t matter if you’re on the home team or the visiting team.
“Obviously I’m wishing him a fast recovery, and hopefully he can be back on the ice soon. That’s all we’ll have to do. We play hockey. Obviously when we go out there, we take risk, and sometimes we do get hurt. It’s just very unfortunate.”
One reason that Chara has been put in such a negative light over the play is because of his history with Pacioretty. The B’s captain got tangled up with the Habs forward in each of the team’s previous meetings, as Pacioretty shoved Chara after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime on Jan. 8 and jumped Chara’s defensive partner in Steven Kampfer on Feb. 9. Chara insisted Thursday that he didn’t even know it was Pacioretty when he hit him.
“It was the face-off, and we tried to set up a play, and basically the puck went to the other side, and we were racing for the puck,” Chara said. “I had no idea he was on the ice. I had no idea it was him.”
Chara also touched on the possibility of a criminal charges, as Montreal police have launched an investigation.
“I got some media information on that this morning, but right now I’m focusing on my game and playing hockey,” he said. “We’ll see.”
When it comes to the Bruins/Canadiens rivalry, there usually isn’t a fence on which to sit. You’re either all black and gold all the time, or you live for the Habs.
Yet it in the days following Zdeno Chara‘s hit on Max Pacioretty, Bruins defenseman Steven Kampfer has both parties in mind. A college teammate of Pacioretty’s, Kampfer reached out to Alec Schall, who represents both players.
“I’ve talked to our agent. I was on the phone with my agent after the hit, just trying to see what the feeling was, if he had talked to his parents,” Kampfer said Thursday.
“You feel bad for him, especially knowing him and knowing Zee. I feel bad for both of them because of the whole situation. From what I’ve heard, Max is doing very well, better than anticipated, so I’m happy to hear that for him.”
It wasn’t long ago that both Kampfer and Pacioretty were using Schall as a mediator as they vented frustrations from an incident on Feb. 9. After Brad Marchand hit James Wisniewski after a whistle, Pacioretty jumped Kampfer, which left the B’s defenseman frustrated with his former teammate after the game. That’s been forgotten, Kampfer said Thursday, and even shared that he had entertained the idea of making Pacioretty the opponent in his still-non-existent first NHL fight.
“The thing — I guess we both kind of left it out — we had talked about it before the game, if we were ever in a situation like that, then we’d go. I just didn’t think he’d horse-caller me to go,” Kampfer said with a laugh.
Kampfer, caught of guard by the play, had Chara come to his defense following the play, and it stands as one of two notable encounters that Chara has had with Pacioretty this season.
“I think when somebody sees something like that, obviously Zee’s going to jump in, but at the same time, he’s a good player,” Kampfer said of the incident and Pacioretty. “I think he’s going to be a great player later in his career, but right now, we all hope and pray that he’s going to get better. Slowly but surely he’ll get back on the ice.”
Kampfer, who noted that Pacioretty has been considered a “celebrity” in the hospital after the hit left him severely concussed and with a fractured vertebrae, wants to stay in touch with Pacioretty as he tries to make a return to the ice. The B’s blueliner is no stranger to having to make a tough recovery, as he cracked his skull when he was assaulted by a football player at Michigan and was attacked by two Michigan State players on the ice three months later.
Still, given his relationship with Chara, who has taken an interest in the youngster’s development since he was called up in December, Kampfer admits that he is “torn.”
“You feel for both parties. You feel for Zee, and you feel for Max. It’s a tough situation there, and at the same time, you don’t ever want to see a player get hurt, especially in a hockey game and especially to the severity of that happening to him. You can say you’re torn.
“I’ve gone through it. I know what it’s like to have an injury like that, so it’s like I told our agent. I’ll be the first one to talk to Max if he wants to talk because I’ve gone through this before. I can definitely give him some pointers along the way of what he’s going to expect and what he’s going to encounter. At the same time I support Zee. He’s essentially my mentor and I’m learning a lot of things from him. I believe what he said is what happened.”
|Max Pacioretty ‘disgusted’ league didn’t suspend Zdeno Chara||03.09.11 at 10:30 pm ET|
An upset Max Pacioretty spoke to TSN’s Bob McKenzie Wednesday night, doing little to hide his feelings a day after a Zdeno Chara hit into a stanchion along the boards left him with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae.
“I am upset and disgusted that the league didn’t think enough of (the hit) to suspend him,” Pacioretty told McKenzie. “I not mad for myself, I’m mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it’s okay, they won’t be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.
“It’s been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I’ve got a fractured vertebrae, I’m in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I’m not talking a big number, I don’t know, one game, two games, three games…whatever, but something to show that it’s not right.”
Chara said both after the game and after Wednesday’s practice that he did not intend to hurt the 22-year-old forward, and that the fact that he went into the turnbuckle was “very, very, very unfortunate.” Pacioretty isn’t buying it.
“I heard (Chara) said he didn’t mean to do it,” Pacioretty told TSN. “I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he’s talking about how I jumped up or something.
“I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn’t a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle.”
|Canadiens fans call for Zdeno Chara’s arrest, Air Canada threatens to withdraw sponsorship||at 7:11 pm ET|
Canadiens fans have a hard time being taken seriously in Boston, and they’ve really hurt their case this time.
According to the Canadian Press, Montreal police have been ‘inundated’ with phone calls demanding Bruins captain Zdeno Chara‘s arrest. Chara was not suspended Wednesday after his hit on Max Pacioretty sent the Canadiens forward into a stanchion and left him with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrae.
The calls reportedly began coming in heavily in the minutes following the league’s ruling to not suspend the Bruins’ captain. The police have requested the fans stop.
Meanwhile, in a matter to be taken a bit more seriously, Air Canada has reacted to the hit by threatening to withdraw its sponsorship if the league doesn’t take “immediate” and “serious” action against head shots.
Director of Marketing and Communications Denis Vandal sent what the Toronto Sun called a “strongly worded letter” to NHL commissioner Gary Bettman.
“From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, it is becoming increasingly difficult to associate our brand with sports events which could lead to serious and irresponsible accidents; action must be taken by the NHL before we are encountered with a fatality,” Vandal wrote.
“Unless the NHL takes immediate action with serious suspension to the players in question to curtail these life-threatening injuries, Air Canada will withdraw its sponsorship of hockey.”
|Steve Montador: ‘I think Zee knew what he was doing’||at 7:00 pm ET|
Steve Montador, who played 13 games for the Bruins in the 2008-09 season after being acquired at the trade deadline, appeared on WGR 550 Sports Radio in Buffalo Wednesday (audio), opening his appearance with fascinating talk about the B’s captain.
Montador, who said he was “pretty scared and pretty shocked” when he saw the hit, went into detail in describing Chara’s character and what he thinks of himself.
“He has this — and I say this in a good way — a complex that he’s the biggest, strongest guy in the league, and for the most part he probably is,” Montador said. “I think that he uses that just because he feels that mentality.
“One thing about Zee that I recall when he and I and Mark Recchi were talking was that he had a lot of respect for Mark. When [Recchi] got traded there, [Chara] was talking to him saying, ‘I remember one game when you came after me and kept hitting me,’ and here’s [Recchi], who at the time would have been 40 years old, and he’s going after Zdeno Chara and kept going and kept going.
“He had a lot of respect for that, because I think he thought, ‘Hey, I’m Zdeno Chara. I’m the biggest guy in the league,’ and Mark Recchi, although he’s a really thick and strong guy — he’s not the tallest guy — here is coming after him, and [Chara] was kind of wondering, ‘What’s this guy, is he on something or whatever? He keeps coming after me.’ The only reason I tell that story is to just give a sense of how he thinks about himself.”
Montador said that he has never found Chara to be “overly dirty,” but said that “he’s certainly somebody that in some instance you don’t want to be going into the corner with.”
He added that he thought Chara would be suspended for one or two games, and was slightly surprised by the league’s ruling to not suspend the 6-foot-9 defenseman. He also noted that he doesn’t completely buy the idea that Chara didn’t know that Pacioretty’s head could have hit the partition on the play.
“It’s easy for me from this side to speculate, but that part of the rink in Montreal, where the benches are, I’d like to think that everybody, unless it’s their first game there on the first shift — they might not be 100 percent aware of it — but having played against Montreal a bunch with Boston and with Buffalo ‘¦ you’re pretty familiar with the ice,” he said.
“I got a sense that Zee meant to hit him in the way that he did, but I don’t think in any way that he wanted the outcome to be the way that it did. The puck had already been chipped past Zee. Maybe just the emotion of that game and from games previous [led to it].
“I think Zee knew what he was doing there, but like I said, in no way would I think that he’d want to hurt him like that.”
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.
WILMINGTON — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara spoke briefly after the team’s practice Wednesday, reflecting on how things have been for him since he was ejected from Tuesday night’s game for hitting Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty into the beginning of the glassed area between benches.
[Listen to Chara explain his position on the hit, how badly he feels and where he goes from here.]
[Bruins coach Claude Julien said this won’t change his view of Zdeno Chara, whom Julien believes is a clean hockey player.]
“It’s been hard,” Chara said. “Obviously I feel bad about what happened. I am trying to make strong hockey plays and play hard. It’s very unfortunate that a player got hurt and had to leave the game. It is in my mind.”
UPDATE: Chara had a hearing with the league via conference call at noon Wednesday and was later notified he would not be suspended or fined for the play, which left Pacioretty with a severe concussion and fractured vertebrea.
“We just described the play. We said things that we said, and we’re just waiting to hear back,” Chara said at the time.
The captain noted that he has not yet reached out to Pacioretty but plans on it.