Maybe it’s time for the NHL to redesign its helmets.
After suffering a broken neck and a severe concussion, Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens is understandably in no mood to forgive Zdeno Chara, who had driven him headfirst into a turnbuckle along the boards.
“I am upset and disgusted that the league didn’t think enough of (the hit) to suspend him,” Pacioretty told TSN. “I’m not mad for myself, I’m mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it’s okay, they won’t be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.”
“I heard (Chara) said he didn’t mean to do it. I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he’s talking about how I jumped up or something.”
An image, and video of the hit, can be found here. Disturbing as it may be, the NHL deemed there was nothing in the video that could be used as evidence to prove Chara’s hit was delivered with any intent to injure. The hit was clean. It was the turnbuckle’s fault.
According to Dennis Bernstein, (member of Pro Hockey Writers Assoc., Sr. Writer/Director of The Fourth Period Magazine), the players of the NHL do not see the hit in the same forgiving light:
According to Murray, at least one NHL coach acknowledges that hits like these are nothing new:
Whether the fault of Pacioretty’s injury be from negligence, disrespect, substandard helmets, or players outgrowing the rinks they play on, something has to change. The list of players suffering injuries like this is far too long. Here is a sample:
- Sidney Crosby – IR – Concussion
- Brad Richards – IR – Concussion
- Arron Asham – IR – Concussion
- Marc Savard – IR – Concussion Syndrome
- Eric Tangradi – IR – Concussion
- Nick Johnson – IR – Concussion
- Max Pacioretty – IR – Concussion/Spine
- Peter Mueller – IR – Concussion
- David Perron – IR – Concussion
- Colton Orr – IR – Concussion
- Ian Laperriere – IR – Concussion Syndrome
- Francis Bouillon – IR – Concussion
- Jonas Hiller – IR – Concussion?
- Steve Kampfer – IR – Concussion
- Daymond Langkow – IR – Neck
- Kim Johnson – IR – Concussion
- Kyle Cumiskey – IR – Neck
- Theo Peckman – IR – Concussion
- Marco Scandella – IR – Concussion
- Matt Lombardi – IR – Concussion
- Bryce Salvador – IR – Concussion
- Derek Boogard – IR – Concussion
- Kurt Sauer – IR – Head (Concussion?)
- Paul Kariya – IR – Concussion Syndrome
- Taylor Ellington – IR – Concussion
- Michal Neuvirth – IR – Head? (heard it was an eye injury)
- Michael Nylander – IR – Neck
- Mike Green – Head
Hits eerily similar to the Chara/Pacioretty turnbuckle collision have been happening for a long time. Perhaps the worst occasion was way back in 1987, when Cam Neeley and Ray Bourque slammed Brad Marsh into that same partition. From NHLFightClub.com:
“Even had he been wearing a helmet, he almost certainly would have sustained a concussion. Without a helmet, the results were downright frightening. Blood poured from his head and he lapsed into unconsciousness as medics rushed to his aid. If not for the excellent medical care he received, Marsh could have died. As it was, he sustained a severe concussion and lost a good deal of blood.”
Chara is off the hook, but Pacioretty is on the books as the latest member of the dreaded IR list for head injuries. If there is anything that the Brad Marsh hit taught us, it is that wearing a helmet can help, to a certain extent, during collisions of this nature.
If there is anything the Pacioretty hit taught us, it is that helmets are not enough. NHL Coaches and players alike know something dirty has been going on for a long time, and that will continue until the NHL changes its game.
As players grow larger and skate faster and harder, time is running out until someone is killed on the ice.
Pacioretty won’t be the last to be injured in this way, and I am not looking forward to learning who will be.