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Posted at 12:00 PM ET, 03/11/2011

Line change: the NHL's response to Zdeno Chara

By Washington Post Sports

There has been a fair amount of chatter on the blog about the Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty in Montreal the other night, much of it focused on whether Chara is a dirty player or not. Putting that aside for a moment, we're wondering whether fans think some of the criticism being directed against the league itself -- by the Canadian prime minister, Air Canada, the NHL players association, among others -- is justified.

Commissioner Gary Bettman defended the game's response to the Chara hit this way:

"It was a horrific injury, we're sorry that it happened in our fast-paced, physical game, but I don't think whether or not supplemental discipline was imposed would change what happened and, in fact, the people in the game who I have heard from, almost to a person ... believe that it was handled appropriately."

Agree? Disagree?

By Washington Post Sports  | March 11, 2011; 12:00 PM ET
 
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Comments

Saying he isn't a dirty player is COMPLETELY FALSE...

Chara= Kjell Sammuelson

Posted by: SoaringCaps | March 11, 2011 9:47 AM | Report abuse
-------------------
Man, it's comments like these that prevent me from staying away from CI. Last night, it was someone implying that Chara was too chickenship to fight Pacioretty in a one-on-one "fair fight."

And today, comparing Chara to Kjell Sammuelson....YOU'VE GOT TO BE KIDDING! Now, I hate the Flyers even more than the Pens, but this is the first time EVER that I've seen him described as a "dirty" player. On a dirty Flyers team in the '80s-early 90's, good ole Kjell was their annual Lady Byng candidate. By comparing Chara to Sammuelson, you've absolved him of any responsibility for the hit.

GIVE DJK A JERSEY, CANES ARE GOING DOWN!!

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 11, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Are you kidding me? Handled appropriately? Thank you Bettman for pointing out the obvious. No amount of punishment can change what happened! Great insight. What a boob.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 11:33 AM | Report abuse

Anyone who runs someone into the turnbuckle should get a suspension IMO. Whether he meant it or not it was a bonehead move and he should have know about the risk in that particular area. It also seems like the league could do something to make the turnbuckle safer.

Posted by: congero | March 11, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

CHARA MEANT IT

Chara and Pacioretti got into it in a previous game...It was Chara's chance to get him back..and he did.

I would of given him 5 games.....

Posted by: SA-Town | March 11, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

So, you are driving to work. In your car. Never been arrested and got only a ticket or two from the speed cameras. For the first time, you engage in a unilateral road rage moment (you, not the other driver) with another driver on the beltway and your unplanned but willful action causes an accident. The driver in the other car fractures a cervical vertebrae and has a severe concussion requiring hospitalization. The police arrive and your plea: I knew I was driving a car, a potential weapon, and I didn't mean to injure the driver but my actions did so. The police response: you don't have a record of arrest, your intentions weren't malicious, and the driver of the other car should know the risk of driving so no tickets and no charges. You drive away scott free.

Please explain the difference to the Chara incident and the one I descibed above.

Posted by: AADCDERM | March 11, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

My thoughts on the whole thing is...what would have happened if Ovechkin ran someone into a turn buckle?

Posted by: nimrodrsp | March 11, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse

Is it me or haven't we already been discussing this for days now and in someone's infinite wisdom, decided we should slap that question up as a topic of discussion on the Post and let the posters go at it? Next up, someone's going to put up a topic of discussion "The invention of the wheel - A New Frontier for Travelers". A tad behind here, aren't we?

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 11, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

This is such a big deal in Canada because it involves the Canadiens. Quebecers and especially the Francophone media are very sensitive and parochial when it to any infractions to their beloved Les Habitants. The Anglophone media, of course, picks up on it because of their politically correct nature.

While I believe it would have still been a big story if it had happened to, oh, let's say someone on the Caps, there is no way you'd have high ranking elected officials commenting on it, advertisers threatening to pull out, and police criminal investigations like you have going on now in Canada.

We Cap fans can empathize somewhat with Chara, in light of all of the grief Ovy received last year over his hits that caused injuries and the suspensions that resulted from them. Just like Ovy was last year, Chara is now a marked man by the league. On-ice officials will closely scrutinize his play and the next questionable hit he makes will cause him to be suspended and/or fined.

Posted by: braunt | March 11, 2011 11:48 AM | Report abuse

I would love for the Canadian Prime Minister to kick Bettman out of Canada. =P

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 11, 2011 11:49 AM | Report abuse

What bothers me most is that Bettman downplays this incident but when it was Ovi, Bettman made it sound like Ovi was strapping some heat on the ice and pointing guns at the other players. Bettman's perspective is so off, it's embarrassing.

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | March 11, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

One thing to note this year is that the Caps are 4th in the league in goals allowed per game. Last year, they were 18th(I think). They have made this improvement with mostly the same players, with most of the players being rookies(Carlson, Alzner, MJ, MP, etc.) until the trade deadline.

Usually when this happens to a team, regardless of the team, the coach is credited with great coaching. I haven't seen much credit(on this board) being given to BB for this improvement.

In addition, the PK has gone from 25th in the league(I think) last year to 3rd. Again, with mostly the same players. Just like what was said for team defense, usually when this happens with a team the coach is given a lot credit for great coaching when this happens. Again, I haven't seen much credit(on this board) being given to BB for this improvement.

Everything depends on playoff success, and that remains to be seen, but I think BB deserves some credit for greatly improving the defense of the Caps.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 11, 2011 11:51 AM | Report abuse

I think the NHL handled this situation very poorly and left themselves vulnerable to legitimate criticism. The hit was reckless. Period. As players have weighed in, they are professionals and it is their responsibility to be aware of where they are on the rink at all times. Period. It doesn't help that a conflict of interest complaint can be raised in the NHL disciplinary leadership team because of the son for one of the officers who plays for Boston.

Finally, the freeze-frame photo, enlarged, that has been posted in many places on the web and which was probably not available to leadership when they made their ruling, is the ultimate proof. Based on this photo of his hand pushing the players head into the stantion, I think Chara should be worried about being charged with assault.

Posted by: ksr17 | March 11, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

@AADCDERM, 1) Sports to real life analogy is always a poor one. Like look at the NFL as an example, you have employees (players) sharing profits with their bosses (owners) and also wanting to see their finical records before deciding how much of the profits they are going to let their bosses get. No job in the real world can that happen. 2) Even if you want to use your example what would be the best analogy is that he was changing lanes (something that happens all the time just like a check in hockey but if not done right can result in injury) there is a guy in the other lane who doesn't see Chara changing lanes and does nothing himself to prevent the accident. Chara is driving a Hummer and the other driver has a regular car and runs into a street like that neither of there were looking out and the street light causes the other driver to get hurt. Cops get to that and at worse Chara would have to pay for the other guys car and medical prices. He would not be going to jail (suspension) or worse. Hits like the Chara one happen all the time like Jack Johnson on Ryan Smyth a few years ago and no one said a thing. If this is such a bad hit why nothing then?

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 11, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

"So, you are driving to work. In your car. Never been arrested and got only a ticket or two from the speed cameras. For the first time, you engage in a unilateral road rage moment (you, not the other driver) with another driver on the beltway and your unplanned but willful action causes an accident. The driver in the other car fractures a cervical vertebrae and has a severe concussion requiring hospitalization. The police arrive and your plea: I knew I was driving a car, a potential weapon, and I didn't mean to injure the driver but my actions did so. The police response: you don't have a record of arrest, your intentions weren't malicious, and the driver of the other car should know the risk of driving so no tickets and no charges. You drive away scott free.

Please explain the difference to the Chara incident and the one I descibed above"


Well, if you used your car to guide and force the other car into the medium in the middle of road, you wouldn't walk away without being charged.

The still capture photo shows Chara's hand/elbow at head level, pushing it into the divider. There's no place for that, and no amount of claims of "riding him into the boards" forgives his hands being on his head.

It's illegal, and he should have been suspended.

Posted by: spynnal | March 11, 2011 11:56 AM | Report abuse

sgm: Yes, but the O has fallen off more than the D has improved.

My take is "Can't walk and chew gum at the same time."

I will change my tune when he gets to ECF.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 11, 2011 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Those who insist that this is NOT an important topic are myopic. This issue is big right now. Not just in Chara's case. Air Canada is howling and threatening to pull a much needed revenue stream from the NHL coffers as a result. I am still angry over the stiff penalties levied upon OV (and others)in the past. Not because he didn't deserve them, rather because others deserve the same if not worse verdicts in their individual cases. If only repeat offenders or those suspected to have motive are dealt with severely, then what's to stop the unpunished from inflicting harm and walking away scott free on a regular basis? Again, I repeat, there is absolutely no consistency in this area demonstrated by the NHL league offices. Campbell and Bettman are buffoons at best.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

Finally, the freeze-frame photo, enlarged, that has been posted in many places on the web and which was probably not available to leadership when they made their ruling, is the ultimate proof. Based on this photo of his hand pushing the players head into the stantion, I think Chara should be worried about being charged with assault.

Posted by: ksr17 | March 11, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

I have seen that photo and you cannot tell (because it is a stopped picture) if that is going into the turnbuckel of if the hand hit the end as he was coming off of the turnbuckle because seeing the video he doesn't appear to make contact with the head until after the turnbuckle contact is made.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 11, 2011 12:00 PM | Report abuse

To at least give the illusion of consistency, the NHL should have suspended Chara 2-5 games for this incident. He's a very physical player, but I don't think of him as a dirty player. But, he's 6'9" and 260 lbs. and he bears some responsibility for the forcefullness with which he plays the game. Was he trying to injure Pacioretty? Only he knows for sure, but I have no doubt that he was trying to rattle him with physical play. He must take responsibility for the location on the ice where it occurred. I saw no signs in replays where he attempted to "let up" when Pacioretty's head approached the turnbuckle. The turnbuckle didn't magically appear; it's been there for every game Chara has played in Montreal.

Posted by: Blueline | March 11, 2011 12:03 PM | Report abuse

The hit was reckless. Period. As players have weighed in, they are professionals and it is their responsibility to be aware of where they are on the rink at all times. Period.

Posted by: ksr17 | March 11, 2011 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Aside from Joe Thornton and Canadien players (who have an axe to grind), what other NHL players have weighed in on matter and condemned Chara for failing his "responsibility"?

Or, ksr17, are you referring to all the "players" on this site who make those claims? I'm dead serious about the NHL players, because I wanna know who Chara will beat the crap out of (given the time and opportunity) for trying to throw him under the bus.

So far, Thornton is the only one I've seen to act like Ray Ferraro......

Posted by: vermontcaps | March 11, 2011 12:04 PM | Report abuse

@spynnal

I completely agree ...

... and it would have sent a message also to other players for beeing "a little bit more careful" (like the Gillies-message) ...

... goons and such plays are not acceptable ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 11, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

@Cayugalaker so now we are going to let sponsors decide who gets suspended and who doesn't? That sounds like a great idea. The only reason why there is so much meada attention on this is because it happend to a Hab. If it was the hit itself everyone was reacting to then this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aPphB84zMCM would have gotten the same attention which it didn't.

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 11, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

What makes a "dirty" player? Every 600 or so NHLers has cross-checked, boarded, or slashed another sometime in his career. Is it "dirty" when it happens frequently? Is it "dirty" when the opposing player is hurt? Or is it "dirty" when the action is above and beyond the penalty itself (ala McSorley and his stick)? Point is, there is so much subjectivity here. A simple trip can lead to significant injury if the player falls awkwardly or crashes into the boards. So, often the talk is intent. Who can say for certain whether injury was intentional or not. I don't think there is a clear answer for any of this. As in our justice system, there are so many loop-holes and views, and the results of punishment is always mixed and frequently inconsistent. I think we just need to live with it the same way we do missed calls by refs. It's a part of the game.

Posted by: gonchpup | March 11, 2011 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I think Chara should've gotten something, since it looks to be almost as bad as the Bertuzzi incident, if not a little worse.

Posted by: jwash4472 | March 11, 2011 9:04 AM | Report abuse
-----------------------------------------
From somebody who lives in Colorado and remembers the Bertuzzi/Moore incident like it happened an hour ago I 100% disagree respectfully. I'm not gonna get into the Chara debate with anybody but I can tell you that these 2 incidents are completely different. Bertuzzi intentionally went after Steve Moore and delivered a violent punch that Moore NEVER saw coming. I don't think Bertuzzi meant to hurt Moore like he did but he meant to hurt him. He wanted to kick his @ss! Moore had run Naslund (one of their elite players at the time) in the prior meeting and gave him a concussion. Moore was challenged to several fights from several players prior and declined so Bertuzzi attacked him.

Sorry bro, 2 completely different things.


Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 11, 2011 12:06 PM | Report abuse

Please explain the difference to the Chara incident and the one I descibed above.

Posted by: AADCDERM | March 11, 2011 11:40 AM | Report abuse
-----------------------------------
I really don't want to get into the Chara incident but you can't be serious can you? C'mon bro you're better than that.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 11, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

@bigcap

... you are right! How could I forgot this ...

... Bruins will hoist the SC this year

... you heard it here first:

nostra... ;-)

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 11, 2011 11:34 AM | Report abuse

Well, this will be yet another of your failed predictions nostra...

Posted by: fanohock1 | March 11, 2011 12:11 PM | Report abuse

@ icehammer

Hopefully, you realize that what you are suggesting is NOT what I meant when mentioning Air Canada. This is simply part of the hangover that is in play here as a result of the indignity committed by the NHL in this circumstance.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

SeminAllOverTheIce

gotta disagree about Varly...to me Nuevy has been steadier...varly CAN BE more specatcualar at times, but he also gives up way to many rebounds. He is either really on or really off.

Nuevy on the other hand I think will turn into a consistent good goalie. He has better positioning and is not as injury prone.

He also thrives off of confidence and a lot of play...when BB switches him in and out he seems to loose confidence. When he plays a lot he gets better and better...Varly always starts off great and then simmers

Posted by: capscoach | March 11, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse

As players have weighed in, they are professionals and it is their responsibility to be aware of where they are on the rink at all times. Period. It doesn't help that a conflict of interest complaint can be raised in the NHL disciplinary leadership team because of the son for one of the officers who plays for Boston.
*KSR*
----------------------------------------
The only players (active or retired) that have said you need to know where you are on the rink are the Canadians. Every other player interviewed has said that they are not aware while playing where every stanchion is etc. You know in general where you as it pertains to the context of the game. For example you know what zone you're in, how far to "another" line/circle etc. So those things you're aware of but not where glass starts stops etc. If you have proof of another player stating that they should know where they are on the ice I'd love to see the quote. I've paid very close attention to this for personal reasons so I'm just saying I haven't heard 1 player supporting "you know where the glass stanchions are" outside of Montreal.

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 11, 2011 12:19 PM | Report abuse

What interests and bothers me isn't necessarily whether Chara was or was not suspended. Rather, it's the maddening inconsistency shown by the NHL and the seeming hypocrisy shown in league officials' comments on these sorts of things. Several people have mentioned how last year when Ovechkin was suspended after the Campbell hit, the league officials mentioned how the player is responsible for knowing where he is on the ice (including recognizing the unyielding nature of the boards) and for respecting the dangerous situation facing the other player. They also said, quote, "If you cause a player to be injured, then you have to be responsible for the play that you're involved in, if there's any carelessness or recklessness in it."

Yet in the case of the Chara hit, they've said precisely the opposite. If the turnbuckle weren't there, the result would have been different and there would have been no injury. Yet if the player is indeed responsible for knowing where he is, and is responsible for the result of the play, as they told us last year, then it's irrelevant whether the result would have been different had the hit occurred elsewhere.

As TSN's Bob McKenzie said, "The hit was late. It was interference. It caused injury and while the design configuration of the boards and glass played a pivotal role in the severity of the injury, the responsibility is still with the hitter."

It's the NHL's maddening inconsistency that is unacceptable and frustrating. Fans in every sport believe that certain teams get undue preferential treatment from the officials (for example, UNC in college basketball or Pittsburgh in the NHL), but most leagues at least try to hide the favoritism as best they can. The NHL doesn't, and that's pathetic.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 11, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

icehammer,

Just watched the video you posted. Not quite the same thing but I'm not interested in splitting hairs. Anyone that watches both incidents can readily see the difference. In actuality, you are making my point on this one. Consistency!!! If you malfunction, you will be dealt with. The players can not police themselves.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:22 PM | Report abuse

"The people in the game that I have heard from..."

Would LOVE to hear which "people" actually were ok with this. This is total bull and the NHL has been pulling this S$%t for the past few seasons with their incoherent and totally random assessment of what is considered fine/suspension worthy.

Any time that there is video evidence of foul play on anyone's part they should be fined and/or suspended.

Small example...I was so incensed 2 years ago whenKunitz gave Varlamov a dirty as hell cross check on the neck which went unpenalized. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLQqOYjj_mI

The OV suspension last year for riding Campbell into the boards was less aggressive and dangerous than what Chara did and he got 2 games.

I mean really, all the NHL had to do was give the guy at least a 3 game suspension (which he deserved) and this would be no issue. I know they say, that no amount of punishment would satisfy the people who are enraged about this, but a 3-5 game suspension would have them crying about it less.

boneheaded move by NHL who just doesn't get it when it comes to these decisions

Also, they should appoint some sort of unbiased committee that hands down punishments cause there seems to be some sentiment in the league (one player mentioned this...I think it was Henrik Sedin) that Boston just gets away with everything.

Here is another glaring example of Lucic cross checking a dude across the head and receiving absolutely ZERO discipline: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB9T7QIjigg

I mean really. How hard is it with all the technology there is? If a players is caught doing hitting high or pushing a guys head into a turnbuckle, then he gets suspended. Period.

And getting back to Chara, by not suspending him, the NHL is just setting up some sort of vigilante payback the next time these guys face off against each other.

The NHL's lack of common sense makes my blood boil.

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | March 11, 2011 12:24 PM | Report abuse

People are very naive:
There are no suspensions or consequences because neither player is Canadian. If the injured player was Canadian, there would have been a suspension. If the player that made the hit was Canadian, the NHL would have suspended the injured player for diving. Because no Canadian player was involved, this issue is being ignored - like it never happened.

Posted by: _828 | March 11, 2011 12:25 PM | Report abuse

The NHL's lack of common sense makes my blood boil.

SkinsFanInNYC

my sentiments exactly. Thank you.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Hey guys, sorry to go off thread but does anyone have extra tix for tonight's game? Looking for two.

Posted by: jakopz | March 11, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

@Cayugalaker there is consistency, Johnson got no suspension for that hit and there was no outcry.

In actual Cap news I found this interesting.

Dmitry Chesnokov
#Caps prospect Orlov (with Hershey now) spoke about the level of the AHL: "I think the level of the #KHL is higher. I am certain of it!"

Posted by: icehammer97 | March 11, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

A

Posted by: PhilR | March 11, 2011 10:13 AM

B

Posted by: tominsocal1 | March 11, 2011 10:22 AM

Potato

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | March 11, 2011 10:27 AM

Po-tah-to

Posted by: Rhino40 | March 11, 2011 12:32 PM | Report abuse

Rather than just look at one incident, I ask the question: Does the sum total of the NHL disciplinary process give you confidence that player safety is paramount?

I see so much inconsistency in the rulings. Some decisions are by the letter; other decisions are by the 'reckless' nature. Sometimes we hear that a player has to always be aware of his surroundings and that is a factor.

So I ask you: Is a superstar veteran really that dumb that 1) he did not know who was on the ice; 2) the post was there; 3) that his hit with forearm extension was reckless; and of course, 4) that his club was in 'hate mode' with MTL and behind by a 4-0 score. Nope, nothing there.

One could make the argument that the NHL should punish the on-ice officials for making the wrong decision. Following logic, it should have been only 2 minutes for interference.

And the ludicrousness of the decision is that Chara still has 'no prior history' because he received no supplementary punishment.

This so pales in comparison to Ovie's punishment from the Campbell hit.

Ya, right decision, NHL? Never.

Posted by: trfnews | March 11, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Interesting tid-bits.............

Washington is the first team in NHL history with six or more wins from three goaltenders each age 22 or younger

And this one for the BB haters among us

Bruce Boudreau’s .676 career winning percentage is the best of any active coach and the best of any coach in NHL history with at least 250 games of experience

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:33 PM | Report abuse

@SkinsFanInNYC

... you are right ... and there are a lot more examples were a player goes for another player with the intention to injure (e.g. the slashing of Backstroms hand for "taking him out of the game" by re-injuring his thumb etc.) ...

... all those actions are intentional and all players are knowing exactly what they are doing (as do the trainers) ...

Posted by: FCKoeln1 | March 11, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

This topic is really getting old, he got away with a very questionable hit and that happens on a daily basis in the NHL from a variety of players. It is a shame that it more than likely ended a players career but this stuff happens in a sport this fast and physical. There are plenty of examples of hits just like this one that have gone unpunished in the past (one involved the Caps very own Dale Hunter), the only reason this one is getting this much attention is the injury involved.

Posted by: PhilR | March 11, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Here is a close-up still (I assume a video grab) of the hit. If the player is responsible for his actions, and if the league were serious about the headshot rules, then it's hard to fathom why this sort of play was not deemed worthy of supplementary discipline.

http://img593.imageshack.us/img593/592/254939843.jpg

Looking at the stanchion bending like that makes me cringe.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 11, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

I seem to remember Kelly Miller beating the hell out of Kjell one game. He had to punch up at him, but really thrashed him.

Posted by: underpants2 | March 11, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

@ icehammer

white flag, I give up, OK already, I get it. You're right,.........somehow. I was merely attempting to make a point, which has been rendered moot, I'm afraid.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

The rules are changing and should be changed even more. Crosby and Green out with concussions should say it all. End all head injuries! And that means punish anyone involved with a head injury. Players have to respect their few remaining little gray cells. We can't expect them to understand the long term consequences of brain injury -- they're just little kids playing their guts out. So we have to set the adult rules. And that definitely means no fighting or goon retaliation. Hockey is not a blood sport and we can do without the brutal fans who want to make it one. Hockey is an OV and MarJo passing frenzy to drive the goalie nuts and OV sliding on his keister after scoring. That takes brains and skill and force and we want more of it, not the sickening sight of a bloodied crumpled kid moaning on the ice.

Posted by: hockeyisnotabloodsport | March 11, 2011 12:43 PM | Report abuse

sgm: Yes, but the O has fallen off more than the D has improved.

My take is "Can't walk and chew gum at the same time."

I will change my tune when he gets to ECF.

Posted by: tominsocal1

True, the goal scoring has gone down considerably, but the Caps are tied for the 3rd most points in all of the NHL right now. So they must be scoring enough goals to get that record.

I agree that we have to wait and see what happens in the playoffs, but, up to this point, the improvement in the Caps D and PK has been dramtaic, and I think BB deserves some credit for that.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 11, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Intent aside it was a reckless play that resulted in a very serious injury and should be punished. Chara knew exactly where he was on the ice and meant to hit Pacioretty. He didn't need to finish his check because it would have been an interference penalty, you can also clearly see his hand reach up and push the player's head. This wasn't just the result of normal physical hockey, this was the result of an unnecessary and reckless action and could have been prevented if Chara had not chosen to hit the player unnecessarily. The league had a chance to send a clear message that they take player's safety seriously and to clear up some doubt over their own inconsistentcy but they have failed royaly. The little respect I had for the NHL head office before has now completely. Chara should have been punished regardless of his history and connections in the league. It's like saying that a murderer can get off free because it's only the first time he's been caught. It's just not right and the NHL is too corrupt and incompetent to change it.

Posted by: Jsnoek2 | March 11, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Caps are a lock for 100 pt season. 14 games to get 14 or more points. Doesn't sound any where near as bad as some make it seem.

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't help that a conflict of interest complaint can be raised in the NHL disciplinary leadership team because of the son for one of the officers who plays for Boston.
*ksr17*
-----------------------------------------
I know this might sound amazing but the guys running the NHL are pretty smart. They said "hey, Colin Campbell is the "disciplinarian" of the league and handles suspensions/fines etc. His son plays in the league. You know what, it would probably be a conflict of interest if Colin made decisions that could effect Boston so in these situations lets have..... Mike. Yep lets have Mike Murphy handle this if Boston's involved. Everybody ok with that? Yep!"

Crazy isn't it?

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 11, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Chara is the biggest player in the league and very unique just like Ovechkin is unique in his tendency to play with aggression and deliver hits.

There are certain unnecessary plays that the league is focused on eliminating from hockey. Last year's little shove by Ovechkin on Campbell, and there are examples by others not as name brand as OV, is one of those plays that the league is trying to educate out of the game.

In all honesty, except for trying to finish his check with his arms up a little high I can't find an easy way to rid the game of the type of play that Chara made. Checking into the boards is allowed, but interference is not and that's why Chara deserved a penalty.

There are way more deliberate actions which have higher percentage of causing injury like direct head shots, sticks slashing hands, and cross-checks from behind.

Does Chara hit hard? Yes he does. Does Ovie finish checks with "reckless abandon"? - certainly he sometimes does.

I do not believe either of those players want to cause injury to the guys they hit.

Be careful what you wish for - or great players like Ovechkin are going to have to tone down their game even more for fear that someone will accuse them of doing something deliberate and in a dangerous way. There are too many "hot heads" weighing in on this discussion out of emotion but with no appreciation for consequence if the league tries to clamp down any more than they already have.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 11, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Underpants2

Kelly Miller was my favorite player growing up (I still wear his jersey to MSG and at least the hardcore fans there respect the fact that Miller was once a Ranger...OH the good ol days of Miller and Ridley killing a penalty!)

He absolutely took it to Kjell and it was one of the greatest things I ever saw cause Miller NEVER fought.

Ok...enough reminiscing...

By the way, the only thing that bothers me more than all this Chara stuff is the fact that you can't buy a Chipwhich at the Verizon center like I used to get at the Caps Center...BRING BACK THE CHIPWHICHES TED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | March 11, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Chara is the biggest player in the league and very unique just like Ovechkin is unique in his tendency to play with aggression and deliver hits.

There are certain unnecessary plays that the league is focused on eliminating from hockey. Last year's little shove by Ovechkin on Campbell, and there are examples by others not as name brand as OV, is one of those plays that the league is trying to educate out of the game.

In all honesty, except for trying to finish his check with his arms up a little high I can't find an easy way to rid the game of the type of play that Chara made. Checking into the boards is allowed, but interference is not and that's why Chara deserved a penalty.

There are way more deliberate actions which have higher percentage of causing injury like direct head shots, sticks slashing hands, and cross-checks from behind.

Does Chara hit hard? Yes he does. Does Ovie finish checks with "reckless abandon"? - certainly he sometimes does.

I do not believe either of those players want to cause injury to the guys they hit.

Be careful what you wish for - or great players like Ovechkin are going to have to tone down their game even more for fear that someone will accuse them of doing something deliberate and in a dangerous way. There are too many "hot heads" weighing in on this discussion out of emotion but with no appreciation for consequence if the league tries to clamp down any more than they already have.

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 11, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

@hockeyisnotabloodsport

So, you suspend Steckle for incidental contact? Or Orpik for shooting the puck?
The players are not kids, they are professionals that know the risk of the game... and are getting paid significantly for it.

Posted by: _828 | March 11, 2011 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me why Pittsburgh is still listed in 4th place and Boston in 3rd when the Pens have 86 pts and Boston only has 85??

Posted by: PhilR | March 11, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

@ _828

Utterly ridiculous. That's tongue in cheek or devil's advocate stuff????........

Posted by: Cayugalaker | March 11, 2011 12:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm an idiot, had divisions mixed up....

Posted by: PhilR | March 11, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

True, the goal scoring has gone down considerably, but the Caps are tied for the 3rd most points in all of the NHL right now. So they must be scoring enough goals to get that record.

Posted by: sgm3 | March 11, 2011 12:46 PM | Report abuse

What is the stat I saw yesterday about the Caps being 32-0-3 in games which they scored 3 or more goals this season.

One goal per period is all they need - those are winning numbers because opponents will not be able to recover from mistakes that lead to Capitals goals.

So it is working!

Posted by: yesisaiditfirst | March 11, 2011 12:57 PM | Report abuse

@PhilR
Division Lead

Posted by: _828 | March 11, 2011 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Can someone explain to me why Pittsburgh is still listed in 4th place and Boston in 3rd when the Pens have 86 pts and Boston only has 85??

Posted by: PhilR

Boston is leading their division and would therefore finish ahead of Pittsburgh even if Pittsburgh had more points than the Bruins(i.e. the 2008 playoffs when the Caps were the 3rd seed even though Philly, as the 6th seed, had more points than them).

Posted by: sgm3 | March 11, 2011 1:01 PM | Report abuse

Caps are a lock for 100 pt season. 14 games to get 14 or more points. Doesn't sound any where near as bad as some make it seem.
---------------

It is well-established that the Caps have in recent years become a stellar regular season team. Unfortunately, in the NHL, that doesn't count nearly much as playoff success.

Posted by: Timbo_1 | March 11, 2011 1:02 PM | Report abuse


Right on @1995hoo, I just don't understand how any "official" looks at this image and doesn't come to the conclusion that this play was fine/suspension worthy. Whats that? Chara is a first time offender? OK, fine, then lets hit him with a 3 game fine.

Done.

Here is a close-up still (I assume a video grab) of the hit. If the player is responsible for his actions, and if the league were serious about the headshot rules, then it's hard to fathom why this sort of play was not deemed worthy of supplementary discipline.

http://img593.imageshack.us/img593/592/254939843.jpg

Looking at the stanchion bending like that makes me cringe.

Posted by: SkinsFanInNYC | March 11, 2011 1:12 PM | Report abuse

To focus on whether or Zdeno Chara is a dirty player or not is unproductive. Rather, his actions on this specific hit should be the thing that is looked at. Discipline is best when meted out swiftly and consistently - like when you touch a hot stove. One cannot know his true intent - but one can easily see what the effects of his actions were. Suspend him!

Posted by: StratCat1 | March 11, 2011 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@1995hoo - Thanks for the still photo.

After seeing the still photo and the bend in the stanchon, Chara was wrong in his actions and should have been suspended. Also, ALL stanchons should have padding on them and if ANY player is hit into or run into a stanchon, they should be automatically penalized for 2 minutes, a game misconduct, and given a 5 game suspension. This type of hitting should NEVER be allowed in the NHL.

The NHL got this call WRONG on all counts!!!

With player sizes and speed major damage will be done and players careers will be shortened. Evidence this hit and the Habs players condition.

The NHL needs to OUTLAW ANY head hits all together. Hitting can happen but never to the head. If the head is hit, other than a fight, it should be an automatic game misconduct and 10 game suspension without pay.

That hit was bad when seen in a still picture with the bending of the stanchon.

http://img593.imageshack.us/img593/592/254939843.jpg

Posted by: JMinVA | March 11, 2011 1:18 PM | Report abuse

The "freeze frame" photo occurred in probably 1/1000 of a second. If you watched the hit real time, the whole hit took less than a second. Was it reckless? Absolutely. I still think the bigger problem is not the hit so much as rink design. These stantions have been around for 100 years in the same position. I'd bet some ergonometric engineer could come up with a less injurious design and turn this mess into a constructive improvement. Ted add that to your list.

Posted by: genericrepub | March 11, 2011 1:27 PM | Report abuse

I saw some of you commenting on here that season tickets for next year went up. If I remember correctly it wasn't a big increase. Or at least not as big as what the Rangers just announced. They are raising all of their tickets by 23%!

Not only that but the Caps I believe are in like the lower 1/3 of the league as far as ticket prices go. If OV played in a town like NY, Phi, Tor etc season tickets would be much higher to see him play. I think Caps fans are getting a pretty good return on their dollar especially these last 5yrs. Now lets win a Cup!

Posted by: pokerface1208 | March 11, 2011 1:30 PM | Report abuse

The outcome was horrible, there may not have been intent, but as a professional you make the decision on a play. The hit was unnecessary for the play and that should hold solid weight in these types of decisions. It was reckless and unfortunately he was severly injured as a result. That type of hit had no justification.

Posted by: BKBK | March 11, 2011 1:34 PM | Report abuse

"The "freeze frame" photo occurred in probably 1/1000 of a second. If you watched the hit real time, the whole hit took less than a second...."

The same can be said about just about any hit in an NHL game, though.

Posted by: 1995hoo | March 11, 2011 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Given the outcome of the hit, I'm surprised NHL officials just tossed out the case so quickly. It has been established that there was animosity between the two, so I feel like there had to have been some intent on Chara's part to finish the check. Whether he timed the check for maximum impact is something we'll probably never know. If anything, arena engineers should take note of things like this so that safety can be improved in future designs.

Posted by: SirPelleas | March 11, 2011 1:55 PM | Report abuse

It was the right decision by the NHL Lords of Discipline. It was a normal hockey play gone wrong because of a confluence of events. Chara is not a dirty player and did not intend to injure. It was a tragic accident, and there's no way to stop these in hockey, or any other place. Players who are made timid by all the talk about this are even more likely to get hurt. Shut up about it and move on.

Posted by: farmgirl19C | March 11, 2011 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I believe the NHL blew it on this one, but I don't believe that Chara is a dirty player. In this instance, however, he clearly was careless, even reckless. Perhaps it was a mistake, an isolated incident, but a player should be responsible for his actions while on the ice. One has to consider also that the NHL bases future punishment on a player's past brushes with NHL law. Ignoring this incident, even to the extent of avoiding a one or two game suspension, leaves Chara's record clean and almost ensures no punishment the next time he acts without regard to another player's well being. The NHL will never be able to control the rising incidence of head injuries if doesn't hold players responsible.

Posted by: rmark1 | March 11, 2011 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I've watched the replays and it appeared to me to be a hard but not illegal hit by Chara.
For those who accuse Chara of being a dirty payer...have you ever watched hockey?
He is not, nor has he ever been, a dirty player.
He's positively HUGE at 6'9" and finishes checks like he's supposed to do. But in no way is he a cheap shot.
I hope the Habs' player will recover but there didn't seem to be obvious intent on Chara's part.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | March 11, 2011 4:06 PM | Report abuse

@braunt
"Just like Ovy was last year, Chara is now a marked man by the league."

Disagree. Ovi is a marked man, but Chara was given a pass. This was a reckless hit and if Ovi should have been suspended, so should Chara. I don't think either Ovi or Chara are dirty players, but if the idiots in the NHL are going to pass out these suspensions, they need to be consistent.

I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: hanks1 | March 11, 2011 4:48 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: spinalmanu | March 11, 2011 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I think the NHL was wrong with this decision. It does not matter if there was intent or not. Chara was cited for interference, which means the play on Pacioretty did not need to happen. If a player has to be aware of where his stick is, he should also be aware of where he is on the ice. Intent is not the issue here, causing a severe injury by a dangerous play is. It was a total white-wash by the NHL.

I also believe that there is no place in the hierarchy of the league for Colin Campbell since he has a son in the league. It does not matter if he recuses himself when it comes to the Bruins or not. The fact that he is in charge of discipline for the league his specter still hangs over the process. He needs to go!

Posted by: wvs9231 | March 11, 2011 6:23 PM | Report abuse

From Bettman: "in fact, the people in the game who I have heard from, almost to a person ... believe that it was handled appropriately."

And I wonder who he asked?? Chara and his teammate Campbell? lol What a tool..

Posted by: mickstix | March 12, 2011 2:37 AM | Report abuse

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