The Max and Chara Incident

It happened on March 8, 2011.

A 6’9″ locomotive smashed a player into a partition with the puck nowhere near, a blatant infraction, and the player went down, out cold, with doctors and trainers scrambling to hold his head steady as he was strapped to a stretcher. The locomotive was thrown out of the game, and it was soon discovered that the receiver of the attack suffered a fractured vertebra in the neck and a severe concussion.

Would you think the 6’9″ locomotive might receive at least some kind of discipline because of this?

Big Zdeno Charo played the next game and the game after that, was never suspended, while Max Pacioretty was in a Montreal hospital bed with a broken neck and the possibility that his playing days were in the distant future only if he was lucky.

What did Pacioretty’s coach, Jacques Martin, say about all this?

“It is not our role to accuse. There was an incident that occurred and there have been other incidences. The league has to look at all those incidents that have had serious repercussions to certain players and I think at some point address it.”

Have we ever seen a less demonstrative coach in the NHL? Think of others, and go back as far as you want. Think of what Toe Blake would have said, and Scotty Bowman, and John Tortorella, and even Bruins’ coach Claude Julien. Any coach would have been outraged, with fire in their eyes and expletives spewing from their mouths. Only Martin would come up with a calm, monotone answer such as “I think at some point address it.”

Mike Murphy, doing the disciplinary duties for Colin Campbell because Campbell had a son on the Bruins, didn’t feel Chara did anything worthy of a suspension. Then why was Max in a hospital bed after such an assault when the puck was thirty or forty feet from him, and why was Chara even thrown out in the first place if the play was so innocent?

Chara was upset by the push Max gave him after Max scored the Habs winner previously?  Max had fired it home and Chara, just in front of him, was pushed ever so slightly out of the way. Chara was supposed to apply payback for such an evil wrongdoing?

Did Chara bide his time and finally pay back for such small thing in the first place? Did Chara, with his size, almost kill Max because Max gave him a little push that would barely move a small child?

Below, in the following video, Bruins’ Mark Recchi, forever after labeled as ‘Dr. Recchi’ weighs in, along with Geoff Molson.

From Recchi –

“He does obviously have a fractured vertebrae, but the concussion was obviously really a non-factor, maybe a day or two, maybe a day he felt it then he was fine a couple of days later,” Recchi told WBZ on Wednesday, noting Pacioretty was tweeting at the movies less than a week after the injury.

“I believe, yeah, they were trying to get Zdeno suspended and they embellished it a little bit. You have to look at it, I guess they were trying to do whatever they could to get him suspended. And I think the league sent the message that it was a hockey play, and that’s the important thing that people have to understand.”

And from Molson –

Letter from Geoff Molson to Canadiens fans

Thursday, 10.03.2011
Montreal Canadiens
Dear Fans,

I would like to thank you all for your comments and support as the Pacioretty family, and our entire organization, deal with this difficult situation. I share your frustration, disappointment and shock. I feel for Max, the team and you, our fans.

Max, on behalf of my family, fans and all who are associated with this great organization, rest assured that we are all behind you and hope for a full recovery.

The Montreal Canadiens is an institution that has played a leadership role in this League and in our community for over 100 years, and you can count on us to continue to do so in the future. The news of the NHL decision yesterday was a hard blow for both the players and fans of the Montreal Canadiens. It was one which shook the faith that we, as a community, have in this sport that we hold in such high regard.

The Montreal Canadiens organization does not agree with the decision taken yesterday by the National Hockey League. We can assure you that we have made our position clear to Commissioner Gary Bettman, and that he has agreed to make this issue a priority at the next General Manager’s meeting, which will be held in Florida on March 14-16. Pierre Gauthier, our General Manager, will be present at this meeting and has already expressed his wish to carry out, clearly, our message to his 29 counterparts and to the League.

Our organization believes that the players’ safety in hockey has become a major concern, and that this situation has reached a point of urgency. At risk are some of the greatest professional athletes in the world, our fan base and the health of our sport at all levels. Players’ safety in hockey must become the ultimate priority and the situation must be addressed immediately. As a proud father of three hockey players, I want to help create a healthy and safe experience for them, and I certainly never want any family to go through what the Pacioretty’s are experiencing at this moment.

We understand and appreciate hockey being a physical sport, but we do not accept any violent behavior that will put the players’ health and safety at risk. On this specific issue, I am asking for the support of the 29 other NHL owners, to address urgently this safety issue. And I am willing to play a leadership role in coordinating this group effort.

You are the best fans in the league, and I am proud to have you behind us. Both the team and Max need your support now more than ever. A solid playoff run is just around the corner and we are counting on you to carry us deep into the spring!


Geoff Molson
Chairman of the Board of Directors and Team Owner

6 thoughts on “The Max and Chara Incident”

  1. I was at the game sitting above it in section 201 and I thought that it was the most horrific thing I had ever seen and I was worried for a bit that maybe someone had possibly died on the ice that night. Terrible incident and now people rag on him for not being physical when he is lucky to be playing. Hopefully he has a great career elsewhere after he gets traded and fans appreciate what he brings to the team.

  2. I am reluctant to say this out loud, but the best hockey I like watching nowadays are my grand-children play – boys and girls on the same team ; hopefully, the next generation is rid of this sexist superiority nonsense by then. Next to watching this type of hockey, the World Juniors is my favorite. Everyone and everything has its heyday, then gradually fades away like the last snowflakes in spring.

  3. Must have been something to see live, Dan, and I’m sure it sucked the life out of the crowd. Thanks for this.

  4. Don’t be reluctant to say it out loud, Orville. I feel the same way and it’s obviously because of our age. All I’m doing now is re-posting things from my blog over the years and I might stop[ soon and be done with it.

  5. Dennis, I’ll always read your blogs. I’ve had the flu for the last eight days. Now, that feels like being body-checked into the boards by Paul Chara. When Terry Harper checked me over the boards into the second row bleachers in a game in Regina in 1960/61, it felt like a body massage in comparison. One nice thing about ageing I find, it takes a heck of a lot more than it once did to bruise my ego. Yeah, you guessed it, the wife says that’s part of my problem, har-de har har.

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