Is it going to take more players on stretchers for the NHL to do something about head injuries: The Max Pacioretty incident

Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty Tuesday night adds another player to the long list of players out of action to incidents (or “accidents”) that have become the norm in the NHL. Fans at the Bell Centre were in shock Tuesday night seeing the limp body of one of the Montreal Canadiens brightest and best scorers. The hit was so tragic some thought he looked as good as dead.

Pacioretty was lucky that it wasn’t worse than it seemed. He sustained a concussion and a cracked vertebrae. The team has no choice but to remain optimistic that he will recover and return to the game one day. However it is disappointing that the NHL once again had the opportunity to set an example about these kind of hits (there has been an increase in head trauma) and once again looked the other way. Chara, an award winning defenseman and not a repeat offender, didn’t get punished. No suspension or any discipline.

It’s hard to look at this objectively as the Montreal/Boston series had already had it share of fights and intensity. In a previous game, Pacioretty provoked Chara and it’s assumed that Chara was waiting for his moment to go after the Canadien. Was this that moment? Who knows. Chara said he didn’t mean to hit him that way and that Pacioretty was going too fast.   The league saw the hit as a “hockey play”. When do hockey hits almost cost someone a broken neck?

And it’s not the first time: Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke’s hit on Mark Savard resulted in a concussion but no suspension. New York Islander Trevor Gillies’ hit on Cal Clutterbuck after coming back from a suspension cost him another suspension. Even superstar Sidney Crosby has fallen victim and hasn’t played a game in months.

Yes NHL, you lost possibly the player in decades to “hockey play”. There goes your chance of increased revenue and promoting the sport on a larger scale. Way to f**king go. So, are you guys waiting until another player gets wheeled off in a stretcher to do something about head trauma? How about paralysis?

Minor hockey programs promote safer hockey methods and head and neck injury prevention to their young players but somehow the NHL hasn’t evolved to that level. They don’t have the guts to take action for the safety of their players. The NHL is too busy with glowing pucks, cheerleaders on the ice and expanding to cities that don’t even know what hockey is.

Accident or incident, The NHL keeps failing in their attempt at changing their rules when it comes to “hockey plays”. Chara gets to play another game while Pacioretty is on the road to recovery. The guy finally makes it to the NHL and it’s cut short by something that could have been preventable. It saddens me to see potential knocked out in seconds.

You can watch the footage over and over and try to figure out if there was the intent of hurting and realize that this fell on the same date as the Todd Bertuzzi incident. I don’t know if the NHL has done anything about head injuries. I ask myself if it’s worth watching the game of hockey if I have to see injuries like this constantly.

If you want to judge for yourself on the hit, warning it’s graphic:


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  • That was a real rough hit. I was worried that it was worse, too. You’re right that the NHL has to do something about it and it now looks like Air Canada agrees. Hopefully this will help.

  • Question:

    “When do hockey hits almost cost someone a broken neck?”


    Umm… When the guy hitting you has a near 7 inch height advantage, a roughly 40 pound weight advantage and you allegedly did something to incur his wrath earlier in the season.

    Allow me to draw a parallel using the following scenario:


    Why did the dog bite you?


    I haven’t the foggiest clue. All I did was neglect to feed him and put out a cigarette on his back. Oh, and I had his nuts chopped off 2 weeks ago Saturday. I’ve left my infant daughter at home alone with the dog while my wounds are being attended to. Believe me when I say that this came as quite a shock to our entire family, including my father-in-law who has recently taken great pleasure in poking the dog’s still tender genitalia with his cane brimming with salt from our walkway. But yeah, there was no warning or indication that this might happen. Absolutely none!

    I mean really, what in the hell do you expect from an event where in nearly every game 2 guys drop gloves and proceed to bash each others skulls in? What exactly is it about all this that people find shocking?

    ©2011 Richard Tickler. All views expressed by Richard Tickler are not necessarily representative of the views expressed by Richard Tickler.

  • Did the Habs launch a criminal investigation?
    I heard some rumours that they were going to. And did anyone hear Pacioretty’s statement. He accuses Chara of deliberately hitting him with the intent to injure.

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