With Max Pacioretty still recovering at the hospital in Montreal as the team hit the ice for an optional skate in St. Louis, the Habs were more concerned about supporting their injured teammate than they were about getting up on their soapboxes.
“You’re always concerned when you see a player lying on the ice,” explained head coach Jacques Martin. “Max is still in the hospital for observation. Obviously, we’re not pleased with the league’s decision, but the organization is looking after the representation under the leadership of Pierre Gauthier.
“It’s an unfortunate incident and we didn’t find out until the next day really what the severity was,” added Martin. “You know he’s going to have a concussion but he also has a fractured fourth vertebrae from the play.”
| Gionta's comments on the NHL's ruling
“We’re obviously in disagreement and we’re disappointed, but we’re all here for Max. It’s tough to see that happen to one of your guys and it’s disappointing that nothing more has come of it, but there’s nothing we can do about that,” offered the Habs captain on his injured linemate. “I don’t know what they use to determine suspensions. I’m not privy to what they take into consideration.
“It was a tough incident and somebody was seriously injured and you have to look at it that way,” he added. “It’s tough to comment on what they did and what they didn’t do, but obviously it wasn’t what we thought it would be.”
In an official statement released by NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy, who reviewed the incident in lieu of Colin Campbell since Campbell’s son Gregory plays for Boston, there were mitigating factors that led to the Bruins captain’s non-suspension following the 5-minute interference major and game misconduct he received at the time.
“This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly -- with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards,” he explained. “I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous.
"This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface,” added Murphy. “In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career."
A nine-year NHL veteran in his own right, Gionta isn’t totally convinced.
“[Chara] has a track record for not being suspended before and that’s to be taken into consideration, but at the same time, you’re responsible for your actions out there,” countered the 32-year-old winger. “Whether it’s him or one of us, you’re responsible for what you do out there and the consequences that come from that. You look into somebody’s past and their history and you take that into account, but you also can’t miss the plays that are happening.”
Despite their disappointment about the NHL’s ruling, Pacioretty’s recovery was more important to the Habs than how many games Chara would – or wouldn’t – be missing.
“We’re behind [Max] and we’re thinking about him and we’re concerned about him,” emphasized Gionta. “Obviously we don’t want to bombard him with stuff, but you want to let him know that you’re there as a teammate and as a friend. At the end of the day, it’s the person you’re worried about, not the hockey player.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
Comments from the room: Martin, Gionta, Subban
Send Max your get-well messages here
Statement from NHL Senior VP of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy on Zdeno Chara hit
Update on Max Pacioretty