Big Bad Bruins Strike Again: Habs Pacioretty Leaves Game on Stretcher
There are times in the sport of hockey where the actual game – you know, the one where the goal it to put the puck in the net more times than your opponent – takes a backseat to certain other things. The rough stuff, if you will.
It happened a month ago, nearly to the day, in a game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Boston Bruins at TD Banknorth Garden, and as a result, it was bound to happen yet again on Tuesday night in the Bell Centre, as the two teams met for the rematch.
On that cold Wednesday night on February 9th of last month, a frustrated Bruins team that went up by two goals early in the first period would see that seemingly decisive dwindle to a 2-2 tie game early in the second period. They would score a third goal, but the Canadiens would counter yet again, unwilling to back down where it counts, on the scoreboard. Somehow, the Bruins would manage to score another two goals for a 5-3 lead, and they wouldn’t let this one slip them by yet again. Knowing that the Canadiens were playing with fire in their bellies despite being outmatched in this particular match, they decided to step away from the actual purpose of playing hockey – as described above – and turn to the rough stuff in order to intimidate an infamously smaller team and beat them into submission.
For what reason exactly? It’s hard to really pinpoint. Maybe they felt inferior, despite being a bigger team physically. Maybe they were upset that the Canadiens have had their number for the most part for years and are unable to beat them, or more importantly in this case, put them away. Maybe, as mentioned, they didn’t think they could beat them by simply playing hockey, and felt as if they needed to turn the game into something more brutal. Maybe it’s just embedded in their brains thanks to decades-worth of physical hockey and other Bruins teams that often put physicality and intimidation ahead of the game.
Or maybe, just like a cat pissing all over your shoes, the Bruins were simply marking their territory.
Whatever the reason was, the Bruins decided to make that particular match about something other than winning a game and accumulating two points, and it seemed as if the message was sent.
Now, nearly a month later, EVERYONE was waiting in anticipation for these two teams to face off again. Everyone was waiting to see how they would react to the result of the last game, an 8-6 Bruins “victory”, a game in which nearly 200 penalty minutes were handed out and both benches were pretty much cleared when it was all said and done.
And everyone had their theories. There were those that wished the Canadiens would call up all their goons and respond to the Bruins the only way they would understand, with fisticuffs. There were others, myself included, that believed that it wasn’t in the Canadiens’ best interest to turn yet another game into a slugfest, nor was it in the character of their coach, Jacques Martin, or even their players.
And for the most part, it seemed as if I was right. The Canadiens would dictate the flow of the game, they would brush off the non-sense of a de-evolved group of savages, that even tried to stir the shitpot early in the game when Johnny Boychuk would seemingly try to stand up PK Subban. The Canadiens “tough guy”, Ryan White, would have nothing of it, and a great fight, a hockey fight.
For nearly two periods following this incident, we would actually see a great hockey game from the Habs perspective. The Canadiens would go up by four goals, and everything was seemingly going great. And we were all feeling very good about it. Hell, I was cracking Charlie Sheen jokes and predetermining the title of this blog.
But any Habs fan that knows this rivalry had to know that something was coming. When the Bruins are losing by four goals, they don’t play hard and try to come back, or just play to finish the game and move on to the next. No, when the Bruins lose, especially to their biggest rival, the ONLY thing they know how to do is respond by sending their message.
So with the score 4-0 in the favour of the Canadiens, with the game seemingly over, with Habs fans happy and with Lars Eller playing the game of his young career, having scored the Habs first two goals, the Bruins would take everything away from them, and us, and their captain, Zdeno Chara, would go ahead and do this:
After a battle for the puck, with both players skating hard, Zdeno Chara would first hit Pacioretty along the benches, then throw an elbow, and to top it all off, as Pacioretty’s face was almost certain to meet the turnbuckle at full speed, Chara would give him a shove, at full force, to ensure that Pacioretty would certainly come out of this with a concussion.
Pacioretty would not move for so long that the teams would be sent to their dressing rooms with 16 seconds remaining on the clock for the period. For the second time in just over a month, Pacioretty would leave an NHL arena on a stretcher and would spend the night in a hospital.
It was a heinous act, a vile act that made me and many other fans of this game sick to their stomachs. This wasn’t a fight, it wasn’t a scrum, and it wasn’t about hockey. It was about sending a message, it was about doing things the way the baboons would in the animal kingdom, and in Chara’s particular case, it was revenge.
To all of the people trying their hardest to defend the incident, I give you Exhibit A. It’s early January, the Canadiens are rebounding from a bad month in December and have started things well with somewhat of a win streak in the opening days of 2011. The Canadiens and Bruins are playing a tight game, it’s 2-2 in overtime, and Pacioretty streaks into the Bruins zone through traffic to score the game winning OT goal. Heading to the boards to celebrate, he finds a behemoth of an animal standing in front of him, and gives him a slight tap in the back to push him out of the way. Chara seemingly takes major offense to this, and starts a scrum two end an otherwise competitive game. And this shouldn’t surprise you, three games in a row now, the Bruins have proven that this is what they do.
Chara doesn’t really get his shot for revenge the next game, as it’s basically a circus. Fast-forward to tonight. Chara has him lined up. You can’t tell me that all he saw was red, and I don’t mean the color of the Canadiens’ uniform, or the jerseys in the crowd. This is his opportunity for revenge, this is his opportunity to send a message, and to take out the player that hurt his feelings two months prior with a light tap to his back to simply get him out of his way. And if you seriously want to deny this, scroll a few paragraphs above and watch the video again. I can’t be the only one who, while watching the video for the 50th time in slow motion, saw that push and immediately thought of that incident.
I’m not trying to say here that Chara was purposely trying to make Pacioretty eat a face-full of turnbuckle. He may be an animal with little to no intelligence, but I don’t think that he’s malicious like that (and I’m trying really hard to be reasonable here). But you can’t tell me that the situation and the circumstances stopped him either.
Pacioretty was standing in front of the bench, where there’s no glass. A small section of about 4 or 5 feet of glass was coming up, and there was no way they were going to make it. You can’t tell me that Chara, a professional, nay, an ELITE player that will once again be in strong contention for the Norris trophy this season, didn’t know where he was, didn’t see the turnbuckle and didn’t know at least in part what he was doing. When you consider all of the above, their history, the shove, and the fact that he’s the leader of a team that’s represented the very nature of the brutality of this sport, there’s absolutely no unbiased way you can say that there wasn’t at least a glimmer of intent on the part of the Slovak.
Chara would go on to say all the right things in his post-game interview. “That wasn’t my intention... It’s very unfortunate ... It’s not my style to hurt somebody ... In that situation everything is happening fast.” Believe what you want, there really isn’t anything here that shouldn’t have been expected from the player following the incident. But to claim it’s not his style to hurt people, well, someone needs to watch more tapes of himself.
It’s not Chara’s fault he’s a freak of nature, that he’s bigger than everyone else and it sometimes leads to things like this, but the evidence is simply stacking up against him on this one. As if we really have to, let’s list the obvious offenses on this one:
1) Interference? Check
2) Elbowing? Check
3) Roughing? Check
4) Hit to the head? Check
5) Intent to injure? Double Check
This is not something that the league can simply pass over. Chara needs to have a hearing, and he needs to take a break. It was a heinous, suspendable action, and I will PRAY that for once, Colin Campbell and his friends will get one right. In vain, of course, but I have to at least try.
In all likelihood, Chara will escape with a game or two in the pressbox, while Pacioretty spends the night and the next day in the hospital, and a lot longer out of the line-up with at least a mild concussion. The league won’t suspend a captain and a likely Norris candidate that’s a big part of a team fighting for a division title and looking to make a long playoff run.
Hit from behind or not, when people talk about someone dying on the ice as a result of a questionable hit, this is it. This is the stuff that needs to be taken out of the game, and these are the types of players that cause these incidents.
And it’s truly a shame that instead of talking about an otherwise great game for the Canadiens, and a performance that would have had me gloating to high-hell in this post game, we have to talk about the goon that took out Max Pacioretty and sent him to the hospital.
We have to talk about Milan Lucic actually having the balls to go after Benoit Pouliot in the closing minutes of the game for no reason other than legally beating the shit out of David Krejci in the game where the Bruins otherwise picked on a bunch of players generally smaller than them. Because that’s the kind of classy person Milan Lucic is. And oh ya, let’s not forget that it was Lucic who was whining to the media before the game that the Habs are the ones always starting scrums and instigating fights. Because, you know, he didn’t go on to do exactly what he said only the Habs do hours after his comments.
But I digress.
Tonight’s incident was one of the worst and most disgusting things I’ve ever seen in the sport of hockey. I’m not an overtly violent person, but after seeing that, and watching it another 100 times for the sake of this article, I have to admit that I wanted blood. Unfortunately, the Canadiens don’t have the right coach for that sort of thing, and we had a relatively tame third period following the incident, and in all likelihood, it was for the better. I already feel extremely disenchanted with the game that I should love right now. If this crime goes unpunished by the league, I don’t think I’ll even know what to say anymore. And it’s bad enough that I have to spend the hours after a win writing about how much of a Neanderthal Zdeno Chara is, the fact that I had to spend part of it arguing with Bruins fans who actually saw absolutely nothing wrong with this, and somehow managed to turn this back on the Habs in several warped ways, well, I don’t even know what else to say about that.
As a quick update on Pacioretty, early word is that the CAT scan revealed no bleeding in his brain, which means that the concussion likely isn’t as bad as it could have been. Pacioretty will be out of the line-up at least 7 days, as per league policy, but in all likelihood he will be out a lot longer.
The Canadiens and Bruins will face off yet again on March 24th in Boston, and Lord only knows how the Bruins will manage to top this one...
Before that, however, the Canadiens will travel to St. Louis for a Thursday night game against the Blues, and it’s likely that we will see another highly anticipated match-up, this time in goal between Carey Price and former Hab Jaroslav Halak.
In the meantime, leave your thoughts on the hit in the comments below and follow me on twitter for more random outbursts about the baboons from Beantown.