Okay, before I say anything else, this is about hockey. At least, superficially, it's about hockey. Feel free to stop reading now if you choose.
Last night, the Montreal Canadiens played the Boston Bruins. Zdeno Chara, team captain, did an illegal check on Max Pacioretty into the plexiglass partition between the benches.
Let me say that in the way I explained it to Roommate.
"The Bumblebees were playing the Red-White-and-Blue people and the really, really huge guy knocked the new kid into the glass bit. It's bad."
[See, she doesn't know/care about the teams/players, really. This is how she defines them. By saying it this way, it makes perfect sense to her.]
Now, I realize that Pacioretty and Chara have a history. I realize that Pacioretty, after scoring the game-winning goal in overtime during the January Canadiens-Bruins matchup, thumped Chara on the back as he was flailing about in joy and happiness. I don't know if it was intentional. When I saw the playback, I just saw a 22-year-old rookie player, filled with joy and giddy as a schoolboy.
I also know that Chara thumped on Pacioretty [and many other players] during the February meeting of these two teams, but really, I don't take that too seriously. After all, there was a total 187 penalty minutes doled out between the two teams in that game. Yes, you read that correctly. 187 minutes. In a 60 minute game. At the end of the game, I think they had four guys per team who were still allowed to skate.
But this was ridiculous. Look. Look!!
What you saw was Chara, all 6'9" and 255+ pounds of him, ramming a rookie into the partition. IF Pacioretty had possession of the puck, the check would have been understandable, at least. After all, Chara is a defenseman. But Pacioretty didn't have the puck. The end result?
Max Pacioretty has a severe concussion and a non-displaced fourth cervical vertebral fracture. Non-displaced, thank God. And fourth, as opposed to third. Again, thank God. At this point, medical care/prayer/recovery time/good karma/crystals in alignment/chanting circles/meditation/faith healing is going to be the key. Do I know if Pacioretty is paralyzed? I do not. Do I know if he'll ever play hockey again? I do not. Do I know if he'll go through the rest of his life in pain? I do not.
I do know this. Zdeno Chara is 33, nearly 34 years old. To play for the NHL, he must have started very young. He's also a 13 year veteran of the NHL.
Suddenly, he doesn't know where the plexiglass is?
This is my opinion:
For professional hockey players, the rink is their mother, their father, their sweetheart, their spouse, their child, their best friend, their very heartbeat. For any player to claim not to know the layout of a rink is absurd. They know the rink like their lover's body, like the backs of their hands. It's their breath and their lives. If a hockey player wants to toss out some crap excuse, lack of knowledge of the freaking rink shouldn't be part of it.
Asked about the play, Chara said, "It's just one of those things...like--NHL.com
glass extensions, doors, even hockey nets are part of the game and obviously
players run into them."
Ohhh. So Pacioretty just "ran into" the plexiglass divider between the benches. Magically. All by himself. Silly rabbit. Chara went on to say,
"It's just very, very unfortunate that a player got hurt."
Again, ohhh. He got hurt. Right. Weird how that happened.
You know, if Chara had the grace to say something like...
"I feel terrible. Sure, I meant to check him. And yeah, he's been pissing me off, so the fact that the check wouldn't have been a totally legal one didn't bother me too much. But I never intended to see him hurt like this. I hope he's okay and out on the ice again soon."
...I might feel differently toward him. But he didn't. He took NO ownership of his actions, expressed NO regret the outcome of those actions, showed NO sympathy for Pacioretty and his family. And for me, this taints my view not only of him, but also of the entire Bruins team. I'm ready to deny that my father grew up in Massachusetts.
And to add insult to serious injury, the NHL has decided that no further disciplinary action is needed against Chara, because his 13 year history with the league doesn't show a pattern of this behavior. It was determined that this was merely the end result of a fast-moving play.
I am disgusted. And while the Omnipotent Comedian and I disagree on many things, not that I've ever won an argument there, on this one, I'm asking for a favor.
May God bless you and keep you, Max. Heal fast and heal whole, kid.