Morning After: An Overshadowed Win

I read an interesting article in Sports Illustrated a couple months ago. It was a second by second breakdown of Crosby’s OT gold medal goal. I want to try and do the same thing with the Pacioretty hit. I’m a Habs fan, and it is very hard for me to not be unbiased when I see a young and promising talent out cold on the ice after he went neck first into a steel pole. Nevertheless, I will try and be unbiased and try and dissect what was probably the worst hockey incident I’ve everwitnessed.

Pacioretty beats Chara to the puck and chips it up the boards. He is starting to gain on the outside and I can only guess that Chara recognizes this and starts to cut in, hoping to cut Pacioretty off.

Chara is beaten to the outside. He begins to initiate contact, which at this point is an interference penalty. I am thinking that Chara knows he’s beat and is wanting to slow Pacioretty down, hoping he doesn’t get the call. Perhaps he thinks a hook or a hold would be too blatant? Regardless, at this point, I believe Chara’s only goal is to slow Pacioretty down with physical force, because he knows he can’t skate with him.


For all of .07 seconds Chara rides Pacioretty along the boards. When Chara initiated contact, it is obvious where they are on the ice…right in front of the Boston bench. I can’t bring myself to think that Chara wanted to injure Pacioretty (I like to give humanity some credit), but I can bring myself to believe that he saw an opportunity to maybe flip Pacioretty over the boards and into the Boston bench. He may have already known he was going to get a penalty, so why not give it a little more and get Pacioretty into the laps of his teamates? It’s a good highlight reel, and usually a little humiliating for the guy who gets flipped.

Unfortunately, .07 seconds isn’t enough time to really process a decision. There isn’t enough boards left, and I believe the shoving motion that put Pacioretty’s head into the partition, was actually meant to throw him over the boards.


There’s the shove I am talking about. Chara starts with taking Pacioretty’s body in an interference play, and then he shoves. I think Pacioretty would have hit the partition regardless, but Chara shoving shows that he was trying to do more. Like I said, I can’t bring myself to believe that another human being would purposely shove another human being’s  head into a solid partition, but I think Chara did want to make a point…sadly he made the wrong point.

This is where I stop showing images. Seeing Pacioretty motionless on the ice with his saliva frozen from his mouth is not something I want to screen-capture and post.

My main issues, besides the obvious are:

  • The thinking that Chara didn’t intend to injure. Intent actually has nothing to do with it. If I get in my car on a snowy day, and I slide into a pedestrian because I couldn’t break in time, I am still held responsible. Regardless of the circumstances, regardless of the fact that the incident wouldn’t have happened had it not been snowing, I am responsible for my actions. Same applies here.
  • People claiming had this happened in a corner, no injury would have occurred.  Well it didn’t happen in the corner, so no point talking about it.
  • Saying that Chara isn’t a dirty player. So what? Only dirty players make bad decisions? And besides, who decides who is a dirty player? His teamates? His coach?

We will find out soon what the league decides. I am not holding my breath for any ground breaking decision. It will likely be 2-games for Chara and  4-6 weeks of rehabilitation for Pacioretty. The National Parity League doesn’t have all that much parity when it comes to punishing injury inducing hits like this.

39 comments for “Morning After: An Overshadowed Win

  1. Jessica Auger
    March 10, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Steph I love the breakdown of the hit, its amazing.
    This hit is really making me upset! It was the most disturbing hit Ive seen in the NHL , and for Chara to not even get a suspension for it, is not right!
    Chara had said in an interview that he didnt realize where he was on the boards when he hit paci (or something to that effect). I was watching the replay on youtube, and I noticed that Chara was looking at Paci when he was slamming him in to boards, so how can he say he didnt know where he was? Also hes a professional hockey player whose on the ice everyday, after so many years he should be aware of his whereabouts!! I think it was intentional, but no one will ever know the truth . THe no punishment thing however is not right. The NHL should prevent these types of career ending hits. A serious happened on Crosby and he hasnt been back, it happened to Pacioretty. The NHL needs to start protecting its players!!!

  2. terrydp
    March 10, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I have to say that, while a sports fan, I am not as familiar with hockey as I am with other sports and I certainly don’t hold a candle to the experts here on this blog. But, it seems to me, from everything I am reading here and on other reports that the real perp in this situation is the League and their ridiculous resistance to hand out appropriate disciplinary measures. Everyone knows, that when there are no consequences to actions – in sports as in life itself – inappropriate behavoir is carried out with disregard and sadly – as in the case here – with vengence. The League has failed to make a clearly established precedent that, without expection, disallows hits of this kind. From reviewing Steph’s play by play above, it looks like if Chara was well-aware that there would have been consquenses to his actions, in those pivitol seconds before he let loose on Pacioretty, he just may have held back the final damaging shove and avoided the senseless tragedy. Or maybe not. In any case, too bad Max and his family are paying for the League’s cowardice and Chara’s ignorance.

    BTW, great blog Steph.

    • Daniel
      March 11, 2011 at 4:08 pm

      Well said.

  3. terrydp
    March 10, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Hi Steph:

    Your comment to @remer that “the turnbuckle was there..any discussion about “what if it wasn’t” is pointless” does not take into consideration the fact that it was the presence of the turnbuckle that caused the severity of the injury. Therefore, to show that Chara was maliciously intented you would have to prove that he knowingly shoved Pacioretty into that turnbuckle with the purpose to cause injury.

    In the end, the location (on the ice, that is) of the hit was the culprit so it is not pointless in the discussion.

    Checks and shoves of all shapes, sizes and intents happen in the sport so the question here is: “Did Chara knowingly shove Pacioretty into that specific turnbuckle knowing full-well it could cause a major injury?”

    From what I’m reading here above, the answer seems to be “yes”. And that’s what makes this all so sickening.

    • March 10, 2011 at 9:32 am

      What I meant was:

      It’s pointless to discuss what would happen if the hit took place somewhere else, because it didn’t take place somewhere else. It took place there.

      Imagining what would have been the result if the hit took place in a corner is pointless, because the hit didn’t take place in a corner.

      • Viceland
        March 10, 2011 at 11:41 am

        Yes, yes and yes. Considering their history since the game on 01-08-11 and Chara’s history of vengeful behaviour, MaxPac was a target. The presence of the turnbuckle is PRECISELY the reason he took the decision to shove (oppertunity to enact revenge) instead of hit; if he’s in a corner, Chara, or anyone, would have checked with the body; there would be no reason to shove and guide the head with your hand towards a post while in a corner.

        So, “Did Chara knowingly shove Pacioretty into that specific turnbuckle knowing full-well it could cause a major injury?”


  4. March 9, 2011 at 9:40 pm

    “No priors” my bony tush. Chara is a serial offender, he brutalizes players regularly with dirty hits, stickwork and his massive fists. This is the fifth attack on MaxPac in two months by the freak. First was the assault or attempted assault after the OT goal. Then the slash to the back of Max’s legs (no penalty) then two attacks in the goon game in Has Been Town. Finally the awful incident last night. What’s even more criminal is the response of the complete idiots running the league (and many mouth breathing sports jock “journalists”). Shame.

  5. March 9, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for the photo breakdown Stephanie. I used it in an argument on my Habs blog and linked to your photos for evidence. Maybe it can bring you a couple more well deserved readers.

    • March 9, 2011 at 10:12 pm

      Thanks Zachery for the kind comments and linking to my post from your great blog…

      • March 10, 2011 at 12:46 pm

        Glad to do it, and I’m glad to have now stumbled upon your blog. I’ll be a regualr reader from here on out.

  6. Julianne
    March 9, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    Excellent article!!!

  7. Habs32
    March 9, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    And once again bill, max didn’t have the puck, u can lie to yourself all u want. And even if he had the puck u thinks it ok to smash a guys head into a post. It’s a game and it’s suppose to be fun and when you get paid as much as chara does u, he should no exactly what he’s doing out there. That wasn’t a hockey hit.

    • Bill
      March 9, 2011 at 5:56 pm

      Kampfer didn’t have the puck either. He’s concussed. No suspension. And rightfully so.

      How exactly am I the one lying to myself? Obviously the league agreed with my interpretation. I think the ones looking at this millisecond by millisecond are the ones lying to themselves, trying to find someone to blame for a horrible accident.

      • Habs32
        March 9, 2011 at 6:08 pm

        When your refer to the league are ya talking about cambell and Murphy. Cause it was there call and it makes alot of sense that cambell even has this type of position when his son plays for the dirtiest team in the league. I would love to play some hockey against ya.

        • Habs32
          March 9, 2011 at 6:18 pm

          Sorry about that last sentence. I just don’t understand, I know chara didn’t want to hurt the kid, but he did and that’s the bottom line. The NHL have no balls.

          • Bill
            March 9, 2011 at 6:26 pm

            No worries. I understand it’s an emotional topic. And fwiw, I played hockey in US college and I’ve been concussed. It’s not fun.

  8. Bill
    March 9, 2011 at 3:48 pm

    The ruling is in.


    Justice is served. And in all honesty and sincerity, get well soon Max.

    • Habs32
      March 9, 2011 at 4:28 pm

      @bill, can’t beleive u actually wrote that justice was served. I wonder how you’d feel if that was your sons head that got smashed into the turnbuckle. And no he didn’t have the puck anymore. How is it that the minister of sports in Canada and the states both saw it been a horrible hit and were confident that the NHL would
      Punish the player, but I guess a early morning phone call with Murphy did the trick in the nhl’s mind. And if u actually think cambell had nothing to do with the decision, your all crazy. Cambell and Murphy should both be fired, there gonna get a player killed soon and all there gonna do is call it a good hockey hit, were the guy was at the wrong place and wrong time. U touch a NFL quarterbacks head and I mean just touch and u get a huge fine. Makes no sense.

      • Bill
        March 9, 2011 at 5:39 pm

        I said ‘justice is served’ because I was concerned that an honest player, with 12 years of a clean history, would be punished for an accident, just to satisfy an angry mob.

    • Daniel Morris
      March 9, 2011 at 4:59 pm

      Well Bill,

      nice to see you said get well soon Max, that’s a sentiment we all share.

      But, I might want to steal two words that you used. So, in all honesty and sincerity, the NHL dropped the ball here.

      Any league that has a high ranked official in the head office who is a sibling of a current player, should be removed from that position.

      The hit was illegal, and dangerous, period. Yes, interference (as you called it) is not a suspendable offense, yet, any infraction that results in a game misconduct is deemed reviewable.

      Like I said, the NHL dropped the ball…..again…I just hope that someone doesn’t need to be killed before these morons get it right.

      The NHL was saved by inches. Think of the Al Pacino speech in ‘Any Given Sunday’. Inches. One inch to the left and Max is fine. One inch to the right and Max never walks again. One inch lower and Max loses a tooth. One inch higher and Max’s family has to prepare a funeral.

      I could make the same argument about every questionable hit against every player for the last 5 years. Something’s gotta give.

      Jeremy Roenick said it best (go figure), wake up NHL.

      • Bill
        March 9, 2011 at 5:46 pm

        I respect your opinion. But it’s just that, an opinion. Take Boston out of it. Take Montreal out of it. There are plenty of neutral media members who said last night and today that they didn’t think it was dirty. Just accidental. Whether they are right or wrong, the fact that it is legitimately debatable means that the evidence is inconclusive.

        • Daniel Morris
          March 9, 2011 at 7:02 pm

          I gotta say that was a great response. I can’t express my own opinion, expect it to be validated, and not give the same respect to a well written thought. Even if I disagree with it it.

          Are we on the same page as far as a lack of disciplinary action by the NHL in genereal? In EVERY case, not focusing on last night’s game?

      • March 9, 2011 at 10:10 pm

        I gotta agree with you.

        A suspension wouldn’t be to just satisfy an angry mob, but to make a statement. The NHL is in dire need to make a statement, and once again, the blew the opportunity.

        REally love that you guys are having this debate here on my blog. It’s truly an important discussion.

  9. Viceland
    March 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    All those saying “If this happened elsewhere on the ice, he would have been fine” are correct, but the fact is, this would NOT have happenend elswhere on the ice. Had they been in a corner, Chara would have checked MaxPac shoulder to shoulder hard into the boards legally, not ride him along the boards (interference play) and then shove him. The location is PRECISELY why Chara made the split second decision to ride along and shove instead of check.

  10. Habs32
    March 9, 2011 at 12:29 pm

    There’s a huge difference with the r smyth hit. He had the puck. Maxpac didn’t. Who cares about intent. If I push a guy infront of a car and go to court, what all my lawyer has to say is, if there was no car he would be fine. Of course he didn’t want to hurt him that bad, but he still did the crime.

    • Bill
      March 9, 2011 at 3:42 pm

      Mac Pac did have the puck at the blue line, and based on the pictures above, was hit within a half of a second of releasing it.

      And even in the silly example you used, there’s a HUGE difference in the eyes of the law between two guys pushing and shoving in a game where one accidentally ends up in front of a car, versus a person intentionally shoving someone into traffic. One is ruled an accidental death, the other, murder.

  11. Steve
    March 9, 2011 at 12:23 pm

    Bill … the difference is that Smyth had the puck and was free to be legally checked. In this instance, Chara and Pacioretty were racing for the loose puck and Chara was losing the race … so he interfered with the player to prevent him from getting ahead. If Pacioretty has the puck and knows he is about to collide with big Chara near the divider then he can choose to back off … but he had no need to worry about being checked at that point since he didn’t have the puck. It is a totally different expectation by the player getting hit.

    • Bill
      March 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      I don’t know about all that. Players chip the puck past the D and get angled hard off the play and into the wall 10x a night. Max had the puck at the blue line and is hit between the blue and red, at the “R” in Reno Depot. So it’s not like the puck was never involved in this play.

      And even if it was interference (which it was), “interference” is not a suspendable penalty. Steven Kampfer is sidelined right now with a concussion because he took a hit he wasn’t expecting. He never touched the puck, he was looking down, trying to find it and he got blasted. Should that have been an interference penalty? Maybe. But B’s fans over at ‘the boards’ had a lengthy discussion about it and as much as it sucks to say, agreed that you can’t suspend the hitter because Kampfer wasn’t ready to be hit.

  12. March 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    @Yves Totally agree with you and your post. I said above… the turnbuckle was there..any discussion about “what if it wasn’t” is pointless

    @daniel that’s an interesting point you make about that area of the ice and how players are taught to respect that area. Never knew that…

    • Daniel Morris
      March 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

      One of those un-written rules I guess, that every sport has. I based that comment on conversations with friends/contacts that actually played the game to a level I can only dream of. They seemed to be universal in their answers.

      Like I said, I played football, and there are 100 unwritten rules in that game, and I know them by heart, and by scar….stitch…..

      Last night was an un-written rule broken by Chara, a dirty play with a dire result, that’s it. The rest of the argument is pointless.

  13. Bill
    March 9, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    How is this hit any different than the J.Johnson hit on R.Smyth that was ruled accidental and drew no suspension?
    I bet if you break that down, frame by frame, you’ll see JJ’s arms extending, and you’ll catch a glimpse of him seeing the stanchion in the last fraction of a second. But it doesn’t mean he intended to hurt him.

    The fact is, the video is inconclusive. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t have to break it down by the millisecond to find a glimpse of intent. Nobody had to break down the Cooke, or Richards or Paille videos. Chara has twelve years in the league without a dirty hit or dangerous, suspensionable play. TWELVE YEARS. I think he’s earned the benefit of the doubt.

    • March 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm

      Don’t disagree with you about the Johnson hit…

      And if I were are a Boston, Florida or Stars fan, I would have written a post just like this and broken down the hits.

      Intent isn’t the issue, it’s the action. Chara was irresponsible with his hit, as was Johnson, Cooke, Richards and Paille (and so so so so many countless others)

      • Bill
        March 9, 2011 at 3:35 pm

        I think there are times when they consider “intent.”

        Obviously intent mattered in the Jack Johnson case. The guy was clearly injured badly as a result of JJ’s actions. But they deemed it an unfortunate accident.

        Two years ago, Steve Begin while playing with MTL cross-checked Marc Savard from behind and broke his back causing him to be out for the remainder of the regular season (and forced Savard to play in the playoff with a broken bone). His actions had a serious and detrimental impact. But again, they deemed the cross check non-malicious and hence- no suspension.

  14. Daniel Morris
    March 9, 2011 at 11:30 am

    I came to see your website due to Tony Marinaro, he mentioned it this morning during his broadcast. Unfortunately, it took a viscious gesture within the the game that I love to make me aware that your site exists.

    Your frame by frame analysis was excellent, I wish the outcome would be different, but I don’t believe that the NHL will use your insight during this afternoons “conference call”.

    I’m not a hockey player. It is the sport that I love above all others,but I never excelled at it. That’s why I played football. I was a big boy who could run fast and hit hard. Hard to the point that opposing players avoided me. But, I was clean.

    I grew up with alot of friends who did excel in hockey, some of them actually went pretty far in their careers. One thing that always sticks out in my mind is that they all treated the “area of ice” by their benches as sacred. Don’t take your eyes off the puck while you’re sitting on the bench…..keep your ears open for the next line change….move to your left so the D-men coming off have room to sit……it looks great on highlight reels, but DON’T hit someone along these boards. NO GLASS.

    The last thing I need is some doofus hitting an opposing player into our bench and inadvertently injuring one of our own players.

    Chara knew where he was. ‘Nuff said.

  15. remer
    March 9, 2011 at 11:23 am

    Watch the hit of Johnson on Smyth. It is really no different and no suspension given.

    Yes, we feel sorry that Pacioretty got hurt, but accidents on the ice happen.

    There is no intention of injury. Chara has zero history of being a dirty player.
    If the turnbuckle was not there, Pacioretty would have not been hurt.

    • March 9, 2011 at 11:58 am

      but the turnbuckle was there…

    • Tony
      March 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm

      You need glasses. It was totally different. Johnson’s arm wasn’t anywhere near Symth’s head.

    • Jimmy
      March 9, 2011 at 3:29 pm

      Smyth had the puck on this hit. Pac did not !

  16. March 9, 2011 at 11:16 am

    Great article.

    And I pretty much agree with the main issues you’ve listed. I wrote about it on my blog this morning.

    I’m surprised that some calls aren’t made in a more “results” based format as opposed to trying to figure out what a guy is thinking or not.

    It’s silly really.

    Hoping that above all, Max Pacioretty is ok.

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