Like everyone else with a soul, I had trouble watching Max Pacioretty lie motionless on the ice after Zdeno Chara pushed him headfirst into glass. I could barely even speak for a few minutes and my voice was strained for the rest of the night. I feared that the worst had happened. What else can you do when one player is being attended to, then moved onto a stretcher by a handful of medical professionals?
(By the way, the Bruins' staff member probably isn't contractually obligated to help players on other teams, but the fact that he was out on the ice, doing what he could to help, shows an incredible amount of class and I can only hope that at least one gutless, malicious hockey fan took note of it.)
In a way, I'm quite glad that we had so many callers (we didn't keep count, but 40 would be a decent low-ball estimate) so that I wouldn't have to keep discussing the hit. It was almost unreal, to have wall-to-wall callers not only expressing their own opinions but decrying those of others, and to know as soon as Tony Marinaro had any news. He stayed for the first 45 minutes or so of Game Points, even though he wasn't obligated to, just to help field calls, move the show along, and get as much news as he could.
It was a lot to handle for this girl with less than two dozen radio appearances to her name: replaying game calls from this season's Habs-Bruins games, listening to a flurry of callers, and trying to keep up with a hectic conversation on Twitter. I'm not ashamed to say I unfollowed a couple of accounts who made stupid or biased comments about the hit, and I came close to calling out a couple of people who thought it'd be funny to make jokes about Habs fans rioting.
So here are just a few angry thoughts, now that I have the time and a medium to express them:
- People have said "If the hit had happened anywhere else, it wouldn't be a big deal." Those people are morons. Blaming the stanchion for being there and causing the injury is the worst excuse ever. Worse than telling players to keep their head up if they don't want to get hit. Worse than blaming food for making you fat. Chara has played enough games in enough arenas - including the Bell Centre - to know the basic layout of an NHL rink. If he didn't mean to hurt Pacioretty, he shouldn't have hit him. Plain and simple.
- Anyone who doesn't feel bad for a man in his early 20's who had to be attended to by multiple medical professionals, or the parents who had to witness the hit and spend the night in hospital with their concussed son, is a terrible person. His mother was shocked, and his dad was in tears. Anyone who has seen their own father crying knows that it's not the kind of thing that happens every day - those tears come from an emotional place that scares even the bravest of dads.
- How can anyone say the hit wasn't dirty? Do clean hits usually knock players unconscious? Was this the kind of hit that happens in every game, and I just happened to be looking elsewhere every game for the last four years?
- The blind hypocrisy of some Bruins fans disgusts me. Luckily, they're not all like this, but how can they defend a player on their team who delivers such a hit with such a result, after they've seen the aftermath of serious head injuries? Do they think Marc Savard is going to wake up next week feeling fine, lace up his skates, and score a hat trick?
- Do the Boston captain's charitable initiatives or whatever change whatever his intent was? While it's great that Chara does so much, it's not like he's the only one. He should take it a step further and change his behaviour on the ice if he really wants to make a difference. That's not how a captain behaves: try to imagine Gionta, Koivu, Iginla, or Alfredsson doing something so awful. I can't see it happening.
- Some people say this was motivated by revenge, that Patches "had it coming" after he hit Chara with his stick earlier this season. If that's the case, how on earth does Chara get punished the next time the Canadiens play him?
And probably my biggest question: the hit was intentional. It's Chara's fault that Max Pacioretty will miss the rest of the regular season. How does this man not even miss one game?