BOSTON -- Greetings from Beantown as the Sabres' see-the-USA tour continues today with practice beginning in the 11:30-11:45 a.m. range at Boston University's Agganis Arena. The TD Garden is unavailable due to tonight's Celtics-Clippers game (and I'm planning on getting a look at Blake Griffin in that one).
The Sabres' goal today is simply to get healthy and find out whether Thomas Vanek (flu) and the injured duo of Jochen Hecht and Mike Grier can play tomorrow against the Bruins. The B's, meanwhile, will be dealing with a major issue today as they should find out if there will be any NHL justice meted out to the guy Sabres fans love to hate, Zdeno Chara.
Big Z took Montreal's Max Pacioretty into the stanchion between the benches last night during Boston's 4-1 loss the Bell Centre and Pacioretty had to be stretchered off the ice. Chara got a five-minute penalty for interference and a game misconduct. Seems OK based on the injury. But is it suspendable? While the play might be a little late, he's just riding Pacioretty off the puck. If it's anywhere on the ice, there's no injury at all.
But should Chara have known where they were? And what about the premeditation between the two after Pacioretty pushed Chara following an overtime goal last month and the Boston defenseman flew into a rage? And how about the Montreal-NHL factors? You stretcher a Canadien off the ice, lots of people think you get more attention than if, say, a Nashville Predator is hurt. In addition, NHL discipline czar Colin Campbell is off this case because his son Gregory plays for the Bruins and Mike Murphy will make the call.
The NHL is holding a noon conference call hearing and the league can't win: If Chara is suspended, people think it's because of the favoritism to old bastion Montreal. If Chara isn't suspended, it's because Campbell & Co. let the Bruins off the hook with Gregory on the roster. A lose-lose.
Here's my take -- the penalties were sufficient. Yes, the hit caused injury (Pacioretty is said to have feeling back in his extremities) but it wasn't a head shot and it was more of a fluke. The only way you suspend Chara, and it would only be for a game or two at most, is if you think he targeted Pacioretty in retribution. Not in this case. There was a puck play involved.
Check out the videos for yourself below, both the Jan. 8 incident and last night, and vote in our poll.
The Pacioretty goal/Chara outburst
The Chara-Pacioretty hit
taggedBoston Bruins | NHL | Sabres