It shouldn’t be the hit that is the issue this time

  • Mar. 16, 2011 11:00 a.m.

One would think that last week’s hockey hit by Boston’s Zdeno Chara on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty was the first example of how physical NHL hockey can be.

How else do you explain politicians wasting parliament time and getting air time by bringing it up in the House of Commons? Or Air Canada speaking out against violence in the sport? Or Montreal police opening a criminal investigation? Or Montreal fans protesting outside the Bell Centre?

Where were these outcries when a lot worse things happened?

Let’s get one thing straight, this wasn’t Todd Bertuzzi jumping on Steve Moore’s back or Marty McSorley swinging his stick or even Dale Hunter running Pierre Turgeon after a playoff winning goal.

It was not even close to Philadelphia’s Steve Downie flying through the air to nail an unsuspecting Dean McAmmond that left him motionless on the ice.

That hit didn’t draw any protest rallies, politicians didn’t speak up, even though that incident happened right in Ottawa, and the police didn’t open an investigation.

So why does all this happen after Chara’s hit?

This was player taking another player out of the play. How many clips do we see on highlight reels where one player dumps another one into the players’ bench?

It’s all good for laughs until someone gets hurt.

Pacioretty was seriously hurt on the play and Chara was kicked out of the game with no further punishment.

And that’s what has some people up in arms.

No one seems to care that the stanchion along the players’ benches has long been a potential area for horrifying collisions. For that matter so is the door going into the benches. Anyone who has watched enough hockey has witnessed those types of collisions involving a player and an immovable object.

Yet for some reason because it happened in Montreal, there seems to be some higher standard that needs to be upheld.

Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau appropriately put it in context Tuesday when he said, ”I don’t want to get into a controversy, but what if that was (Montreal’s) Hal Gill that hit (Boston’s) David Krejci?” he said. ”I don’t think there would be a protest going on here today.”

See NHL, Page 11


I think the same rule applies to politicians like Gary Lunn who voiced his concern in parliament. Obviously, kids living in poverty, unemployment or seniors struggling to get by don’t garner the media attention that speaking out against hockey does in this country.

Lunn should know better. His bio says he was born in Trail. So unless he never went to the Cominco Arena, he should realize what a violent past hockey has.

To single out an incident like the hit in Montreal as the catalyst for change is an insult to all the players who have been injured before because of the armour-like equipment, the small rink surfaces and the cheap shots that still happen.

So what does the NHL do in response? What it usually does – go to Florida for meetings.

Out of that they might finally address the equipment issue that people like Don Cherry have been complaining about for a decade.

They’ll form committees to study concussions. Didn’t they do that when Scott Stevens began delivering his big hits in the 90s?

They’ll get engineers to study the NHL rinks and bring them up to standard.

Sadly, prior to Tuesday’s game in Montreal between the Habs and Capitals, no extra padding has been added to the stanchion that injured Pacioretty.

Perhaps the easiest and cheapest first step to avoid a repeat of such an injury was still not done.

Now there’s something for people concerned about the injury rate in hockey to complain about.