There was a lot of outrage over Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, including from our own Kevin McCauley, who said that there are "no excuses" for a hit like that.
A lot of people saw the hit as unnecessary and dirty, and some, including commenters on this very site, have gone as far as saying that Chara should be suspended for the rest of the year. That is extreme, to say the least.
Let's take one more look at the hit and revisit that line of thinking.
There's no doubt that the hit on looked absolutely horrible, and that wasn't helped at all by the fact that he went down to the ice and had to be taken away on a stretcher. (By the way, he's conscious and alert -- thank God.) We also know that the NHL legislates on outcome more than anything else, including intent, and given the horrific optics of the injury, there's really no doubt that Chara will receive some sort of suspension.
But let's ask ourselves: if this hit happened at literally any other point on the ice, does Pacioretty even fall over? If he hits him along the boards back behind the net, does he even stop skating? The answer is certainly no, and that's the point here. If this hit takes place at any other point on the ice, Pacioretty would absorb a relatively soft hit from the NHL's largest man and we'd all be moving on with our lives.
Instead, the unfortunate reality is that Pacioretty hit that odd wall of glass that sits between the benches at Bell Centre, and as a result of that, we have a horrifying incident that turns Chara into another villian.
It's worth noting for sure that Chara and Pacioretty do have a history, but when you watch the video over and over again it's obvious -- at least to me -- that this was really just a bump along the boards. Chara didn't line his pray up like a predator from across the rink, nor did he even apply all that much force.
What we have here is just an unfortunate incident, and the discipline for that should fall in line with the reality of the situation.