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Chara vs Pacioretty – Intent to Injure?

March 10, 2011

First off, let me just say I hope that Max Pacioretty recovers quickly and entirely.  I have been in the position (due to a car accident) to have the same symptoms and I know how frightening the concept of not being able to do any of the things I love to do can be.

Second, I am neither a Habs nor a Bruins fan. I am a fan of hockey and I am becoming distressed with the number of career, if not life – threatening injuries are being sustained in the course of the last few seasons.

And finally, the discussion at hand – Chara’s hit on Pacioretty.

There are several aspects to look at.

Actual hockey infraction – determined on-ice as an interference penalty meriting a 5 minute major penalty and a game misconduct.  No further action was deemed necessary by the NHL head office.

Past history between Chara and Pacioretty, however slight it may be.  Pacioretty pushed Chara in the back after an O/T winning goal. Drastic? No. Worthy of payback? In the world of professional hockey? Possibly.

Intent to injure – nobody but Zdeno Chara can definitively state what was on his mind when he saw Pacioretty coming down the wing after the puck.   Typically, it would be ‘cut off the player and remove him from the play’ and ‘finish my check.’  There is a pretty good chance that he knew exactly who it was that was skating down the wing at / by him.  But there is also the point that no-one else will know whether he intended to injure Max or just take him out of the play.

Chara himself does not have a history of being a goon.  He has never been subject to disciplinary action from the NHL.  Does this forgive the action? Not at all, but it does go to mitigating the intent behind the action.

The final aspect is that whether Chara intended to hurt Pacioretty or not, the result was catastrophic.  In the same manner that a player is responsible for his actions with regards to his stick, shouldn’t a player be responsible for his actions, whatever the result?

Hockey is a hard-hitting, fast-paced game. It is for this reason that hockey fans enjoy hockey. I offer that while I don’t believe Chara meant to hurt Pacioretty, the end result is that his actions resulted in a career-threatening injury.
Good hockey hits frequently result in injuries both minor and major.  If the league resorts to punishing the ‘offender’ for the results, there will be a great deal taken out of the game due to liability.

Although the league did not see fit to punish this action, Chara should not simply get the benefit of the doubt because he hasn’t done anything like this before. A minimum reaction is required so it does mark his record because we don’t know if he intended to cause injury, to show he’s not  free from the responsibility of respect.





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