While I was fully expecting it, learning about the league’s decision to not suspend Zdeno Chara for his hit on Max Pacioretty threw me for a loop. In all honesty, it made me sick to my stomach and it gave me a headache.
Like many of you, I saw the RDS video. Then I saw the other pictures that came out today, images clearly showing that Chara not only knew what he was doing and where he was on the ice, but also that he intentionally pushed Pacioretty on the turnbuckle, driving his head towards it with his left arm.
Do I believe for one second that Chara is a dirty and cheap player? Absolutely not. But to think that he is incapable of doing such a thing if only this one time, when his team is being smoked in the second period by the score of 4-0, considering the history between him and Pacioretty, it’s like putting our head in the sand trying to pretend that it didn’t happen.
I have never been so disillusioned with the sport that I’ve loved and watched for four decades… never. I’ve never felt so helpless to see bozos like Gary Bettman and Campbell/Murphy wreck something that I once loved so much Mostly, I feel helpless and frustrated by the fact that I, as a fan, am not able to do anything about it. Oh I hear the “not happy, don’t watch” comments already…
While I do know that Murphy, who works for/with Campbell, rendered the decision, I just can’t help but to ask myself some questions…
~ Had it been Gregory Campbell lying in a hospital bed with his career on the line, would the verdict have been the same?
~ Had Shawn Thornton delivered the hit on Pacioretty, how many games would he have received?
With this decision, the NHL proves, once again, that its decision makers can not protect the players. It’s proven game in and game out that referees, through incompetency and inconsistency, also can’t protect the players. To top it off, the NHL made sure that the players don’t protect themselves against each other by penalizing a guy for defending his teammate against borderline or blatant vicious shots/hits, as Ryan White did against Boychuk, getting 17 minutes in penalty for doing the right thing.
True that there is no respect amongst players and that, in spite of what they say. Their actions truly speak louder than words. True that the fact that they’re financially set for life after their first or second NHL contract contributes to the problems, as they make a lot more than the people who they answer to, whether it’s the coach and the fans. True that the equipment which used to be for protection (most notably the shoulder and elbow pads) is now more like weapons. True that the players today are bigger, faster, in better shape and that the rinks are the same size. All of those issues should be addressed, that’s true.
But the one thing that needs to happen in order to start going in the right direction, it’s to get someone capable and competent at the very top, someone who can run this league instead of ruining it. Someone who understands the game, and who will create a committee to decide on suspensions, a committee composed of a representative from the NHLPA, one from the NHL and an independent representative, instead of putting it on one guy’s shoulders, a guy who is influenced by too many factors.
Give me my game back!