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Thursday, March 10, 2011

An Open Letter To The NHL

Dear Comissioner Bettman and Mr Campbell;

Today you have offended me and every other hockey fan. Your support of the actions of Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara on the evening of Tuesday, March 8th 2011 against Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty is nothing short of disgusting. You have irreparably damaged your own credibility as well as that of the NHL and its supposed desire to protect the health and safety of its' players.

Chara's hit on Pacioretty during the second period of a heated game resulted in a broken vertebra and a severe concussion to the Canadiens player, who lay motionless on the ice for a good 5 minutes before being carried off the Bell Centre ice on a stretcher. Who knows how long Pacioretty will be out or even if he will be able to play professional hockey again. Chara was given a game misconduct for the hit but not supplementary discipline.

Let's look at the facts:
Zdeno Chara: 33 years of age, 6'9", 255lbs
Max Pacioretty: 22 years of age, 6'2", 212 lbs

Chara has a good 7 inches and some 40 plus pounds on Pacioretty-that's a lot of velocity and weight rubbing you into the boards and then shoving you into the glass. To make matters worse Chara took the bare minimum of responsibility for the clearly dirty hit and even went as far as to claim that Pacioretty "jumped into" the glass stanchion at the end of the bench, watch the replay and you will find this claim to be utter nonsense. One should expect a lot more from a Captain whose own teammate just last season suffered a devastating blow to the head which may or may not have ended his career.

By declining to suspend or fine Chara Mr. Campbell and by extension Comissioner Bettman and the NHL are condoning hits of this nature. So, listen up NHL goons if you want to "take a player's head off" or "make someone pay" just ride them into the bench and then give them an extra little shove as they come close to the glass stanchion at the end of the player's bench et voila, maximum injury with a minimum of repercussions.

Now, let us play the what if game. What if this hit had not been given by Zdeno Chara, star and captain of the Boston Bruins and instead was instigated by a team's forth line brawler? What if this hit had not been on Max Pacioretty, pretty much a no-name NHLer (at least outside of Montreal) and instead on one of the NHL's "superstars"? Would there have been supplementary discipline? My money is on hell yes. By not suspending and/or fining Chara the NHL is setting up a nasty situation in Boston on Thursday, March 24th 2011, the final regular season game between these two teams.

In a year when concussions and hits to the head are in the spotlight one would think that the NHL, by way of Mr. Campbell, would take a zero tolerance policy to hits that resulted in injuries of this sort, no matter the aggressor or the victim. Not so it seems.

Shame on you Colin Campbell and Shame on you NHL.

a disheartened fan

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