I love watching the game, I love debating the game. Playoff time is one of my favourite things about spring.
But today, well. Maybe not so much.
I just watched the video of Zdeno Chara hitting Max Pacioretty in last night's Boston vs Montreal game, and I feel just sick about it. First of all, the fact that Pacioretty was knocked unconscious and had his neck broken is horrifying. Secondly, the fact that Chara clearly and deliberately shoved Pacioretty's head into a solid stanchion is sickening. The fact that the hit would have been illegal even if they were playing at a safe section of the boards is pretty damned incidental. The fact that so many commentators around the NHL are making this equivalent to a blindside hit, and are discussing things like that Pacioretty wouldn't have been injured if the parition wasn't there, is mind-boggling and downright offensive.
Sure, if the partition wasn't there, Pacioretty wouldn't have been hurt. But it was *because* the stanchion was there that Chara directed his opponent's head at it. The fact that Chara made a deliberate shove, held his arm straight to prevent Pacioretty from being able to swerve away, and put his 6'9", 260 lb frame into driving Pacioretty into the pole - That is the relevant part here. The stanchion is a standard part of the arena. It can't move. Blaming IT for Chara's action is ludicrous. He lifted his head, looked right at it, and then slammed Pacioretty's head into it.
Look - people get hit in hockey all the time. Open-ice hits where a player isn't looking and gets smoked? I disagree with those. Scott Stevens remains one of my most hated players ever because of his tendency to crush forwards with open ice hits. Players fall into the boards and hit their heads; players hit each other and get concussions too. Players get struck by the puck and hit from behind. There are hundreds of ways to get hurt. I get that shit happens. It's a hard game - a dangerous one - and concussions are a part of it.
THIS, though? This is something completely different, in my book. This is a player who in the heat of the moment lost control, and who reacted in a way that very, very easily could have killed Pacioretty. Chara in my experience isn't a bad guy. He's not a hothead, though he is a passionate player, and he's someone I largely respect. Though, frankly, hearing him try and lay some of the blame for the injury on Pacioretty for leaving his feet while being shoved by someone seven inches taller and seventy pounds heavier has made me lose a lot. I'm sure that there are people out there saying "it was a momentary lapse! Chara's played in the league for over 15 years without a previous history of dirty play! Does he really deserve to be heavily punished for one little mistake?"
Damned right he does. I don't care how nice he is or how good he's been before. I don't care who he hit. I'm not a Montreal fan nor do I hate Boston. I have no emotional investment in either of the teams.
I don't care how much he hopes Pacioretty isn't badly hurt or if he's sorry. Though, again, I haven't so far seen much to indicate that he is.
Anyone who can so callously attempt to injure and possibly kill an opposing player 'in the heat of the moment', in a game as dangerous and full of hot moments as hockey, shouldn't be playing.
And that's a fact, too.
ETA: So the NHL has decided that there should be no punishment or suspension for Chara. I am so freaking disgusted by this that I think I am done with the NHL.