Bob McKenzie of TSN spoke with Max Pacioretty(notes) on Wednesday night, and the injured Montreal Canadiens forward registered his outrage over the Zdeno Chara(notes) hit that broke his neck and put him in the hospital, as well as the NHL's decision not to punish it.
"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him," Pacioretty told me. "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.
Their conversation was revelatory, as Pacioretty spoke about a tear-filled moment with his parents at the hospital; that his concussion isn't "severe" thus far, and that doctors haven't informed him about his future in hockey; and that he doesn't believe his rivalry with Chara in previous Canadiens games against the Boston Bruins contributed to the hit.
That said, Pacioretty spoke directly to the notion that Chara intended to harm him with a hit into the "turnbuckle" near the benches. From McKenzie:
"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."
"I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."
Chara's comments on the hit, including the "jumping" accusation, are on ESPN Boston.
Obviously, the caveat here is that Pacioretty is 24 hours removed from a gruesome injury that could irrevocably change his professional hockey career. Anger is understandable. Resentment is expected.
Maybe a month or two down the line, Pacioretty sees this differently. But for now, his accusation that Chara intentionally targeted his head is like driving an oil tanker into the already raging fires of this debate.