March 10, 2011
Wednesday night, Max Pacioretty(notes) of the Montreal Canadiens responded to Zdeno Chara's initial comments on the hit that left Pacioretty hospitalized with a broken neck; claiming that Chara "targeted my head into the turnbuckle" on the infamous hit and expressing "disgust" that there was no suspension for it.
Chara responded Thursday in post-practice comments to the media, and offered his support for Pacioretty's recovery rather than offering a counter-argument. From WEEI's Big Bad Blog:
"I mean, I totally understand," Chara said of Pacioretty's reaction to the ruling. "He's in the hospital, so he's got the right to be emotional, and I respect that. I obviously feel bad that he got hurt. As a player, as a hockey player, we all feel bad when something like that happens. It doesn't matter if you're on the home team or the visiting team. Obviously I'm wishing him a fast recovery, and hopefully he can be back on the ice soon. "
But then … remember Thursday morning when we said opinions were shifting in this controversy, and that popular opinion was souring on Chara's actions? Well, now claiming that he didn't know he was hitting Max Pacioretty, given their history, isn't going to help turn that tide. From The Bruins Blog:
"No [I didn't know it was him.] … It was the faceoff and we tried to set up the play, and basically the puck went to the other side and we were racing for the puck. And I had no idea he was out on the ice. I had no idea it was him," said Chara.
Here's Chara Wednesday on the hit:
Notice "the player" being used on multiple occasions. Is that denial or was Chara -- a man who's won postseason hardware for his alertness on the ice as a defenseman -- actually unaware that it was Max Pacioretty he was hitting? Do you buy that?