Tag:Max Pacioretty
Posted on: March 14, 2011 2:38 am
Edited on: March 14, 2011 8:31 am
 

Morning Skate: Concussions again issue for GMs



The image of Pittsburgh Penguins agitator Matt Cooke’s brutal hit on Boston Bruins forward Marc Savard was still fresh in the minds in the league’s general managers when they met in Florida last March.

What resulted was Rule 48, language that banned blindside hits like the one Savard took days earlier and made violators subject to supplemental discipline. The rule was soon adopted by the competition committee and enforcement began days before the start of the playoffs.

It did nothing to protect Sidney Crosby or Max Pacioretty -- two players injured in incidents not covered by Rule 48 or any other guideline that put the players who injured them in peril of a fine or suspension. 

Crosby, out of the Penguins' lineup since Jan. 5 with concussion-like symptoms, took a shoulder to the head without the puck by David Steckel, who was then a member of the Washington Capitals.Montreal’s Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a broken bone in his neck when Boston’s Zdeno Chara sent him off a divider between the benches.

Pacioretty’s collision with the turnbuckle last week certainly was the scarier to watch of the two, but could either lead to more changes to the NHL rulebook when the three-day GM meetings begin today?

Line Changes

"If you listen to the media and read the papers north of the border, there's tremendous pressure to at least revisit it (the subject of reducing head injuries in the game)," Sabres general manager Darcy Regier told The Buffalo News. "I think we're going to have to do that."

The number of man games lost blindside hits dropped, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told reporters at the All-Star game in January. But he said types of concussions through “accidental” collisions are on the rise.

"The ideal number of concussions would be zero," Bettman said. "Our objective would be to come as close as possible to get that result without changing the fundamentals of our game. We are doing whatever possible to limit the amount of concussions."

One option is to make any type of hit to a player’s head illegal, even if it’s accidental. While that wouldn’t pertain to Chara’s collision with Pacioretty, Montreal GM Pierre Gauthier might have a few ideas.

SUNDAY'S RESULTS
Washington 4, Chicago 3 (OT)
Pittsburgh 5, Edmonton 1
Los Angeles 3, Dallas 2 
Buffalo 6, Ottawa 4 
Phoenix 5, Anaheim, 2
CBSSports.com playoff tracker 

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:25 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 8:50 am
 

Morning Skate: Canucks, Sharks don't disappoint




An overtime with only four skaters per side, the shootout and the date were the only elements that ruined the illusion Thursday's Vancouver Canucks-San Jose Sharks tilt wasn't a playoff game. 

The Sharks, who trailed by two goals early, tied the game on three occasions -- the last with 20.3 seconds left as Ryane Clowe's one-timer beat Cory Schneider as his counterpart, Antti Niemi, sat in favor of the extra attacker. (It was actually 6-on-4 since the Sharks were on the power play.) The Canucks won the game, 5-4, as Schneider was perfect in the shootout and Vancouver's Alex Burrows scored the only goal. 

For two teams who could meet in the postseason for the first time, it didn't get much better for the second week of March. 

“It really was (a playoff vibe),” Sharks captain Joe Thornton told reporters after the game. “These are two really good teams. We're on our end still fighting for our playoff lives, so we need to get as many points as we can. The atmosphere was great and it was an exciting game to be a part of.”

The Pacific Division-leading Sharks pulled within a point of Detroit Red Wings, who sit second in the Western Conference. Still, the Sharks are also seven points away from falling to ninth place and out of playoff picture. 

Vancouver, meanwhile, has won four in a row and remains seven points ahead of Philadelphia in the race for the Presidents' Trophy. 

Schneider again showed he's not a bad second option as starter Robert Luongo rested. He made 44 saves, probably none better than when Clowe directed a crossing pass that Schneider somehow got his right pad on early in OT. It was one of his nine saves in the extra frame as the Canucks, who have the second-best best penalty kill in the NHL, snuffed out a Ryan Kesler high-sticking penalty. 

"Tonight you could say they were the better team on the ice," Canucks coach Alain Vigneault told The Associated Press. "But at the end of the night, our goaltender kept us in the game and we found a way to win."

Line Changes
  • Injured Max Pacioretty joins Twitter
  • Eye on Hockey: Habs owner critical on NHL
  • Eye on Hockey: Bettman defends Chara decision
  • Eye on Hockey:Kubina suspended 3 games
  • Blues' Halak beats former club


  • THORNTON, SEDIN WEIGH IN: Thornton may have a little ax to grind when it comes to the team he traded him. Henrik Sedin, the usually soft-spoken Vancouver Canucks captain, doesn't wade into controversies often. 

    But before Thursday game, each came to the same conclusion: The NHL got it wrong by not suspending Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for his check that led to the scary injuries to Montreal's Max Pacioretty. Here are Thornton's comments via The Vancouver Sun.

    “It's just something with Boston; it seems like they have a horse shoe,” Thornton said. “There's just something about Boston and the disciplinary (decisions) are on their side. I'm not sure why that is or anything. I'm not assuming that Colin's kid being on the team, that's why.”



    That was Thornton's not-so-subtle jab at league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, whose son, Gregory, plays for the Bruins. It was his second in command, Mike Murphy, who made the call not to fine or suspend Chara as Campbell recused himself. 

    Thornton's comments weren't exactly a hit in Boston. 

    “Win a big game when it counts,” Boston TV analyst Mike Milbury retorted. 

    Sedin, however, backed up Thornton’s sentiments and said the fact that Chara isn't considered a dirty play should not have entered into Murphy's decision like it did. 

    “Exactly,” Sedin said. “What are you doing to do the next time Trevor Gillies comes down and runs a guy into the thing? You can't give him anything. And you tell the guys (Chara) has no history, so the next time he does it he still has no history because he didn't get suspended. I don't see the reasoning behind it. Give him at least something to show that's not acceptable.”


    THURSDAY'S RESULTS
    Buffalo 4, Boston 3 (OT)
    Philadelphia 3, Toronto 2 
    Ottawa  2, Florida 1 
    Nashville 4, Minnesota 0 
    St. Louis 4, Montreal 1
    Phoenix 3, Calgary 0 
    Vancouver 5, San Jose 4 (SO)
    CBSSports.com playoff tracker

    Photo: Getty Images

    Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:24 am
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    Posted on: March 11, 2011 2:32 am
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    Posted on: March 10, 2011 4:33 pm
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 4:38 pm
     

    Habs owner: 'Faith' in NHL shaken over Chara flap



    Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson wrote in an open letter released Thursday that he shared fans' “frustration, disappointment and shock” with the NHL’s decision not to suspend Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for a hit that led to serious injuries to Habs forward Max Pacioretty.

    “The news of the NHL decision yesterday was a hard blow for both the players and fans of the Montreal Canadiens,” Molson wrote. “It was one which shook the faith that we, as a community, have in this sport that we hold in such high regard.

    “The Montreal Canadiens organization does not agree with the decision taken yesterday by the National Hockey League. We can assure you that we have made our position clear to Commissioner Gary Bettman, and that he has agreed to make this issue a priority at the next General Manager’s meeting, which will be held in Florida on March 14-16.  Pierre Gauthier, our General Manager, will be present at this meeting and has already expressed his wish to carry out, clearly, our message to his 29 counterparts and to the League.”

    Molson (above with former Habs player Alexei Kovalev) did not say whether the organization was in favor of a police investigation launched into the incident. 

    The full letter can be found here
    Posted on: March 10, 2011 2:32 pm
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 4:08 pm
     

    Bettman: NHL 'comfortable' with Chara decision



    NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Thursday he backs the league's decision not to suspend Boston Bruins Zdeno Chara, even as many fans and sponsors were angered no punishment was meted out for the check that left Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty injured. 

    “Our hockey operations people are extraordinarily comfortable with the decision that has been made,” Bettman said in a briefing designed to promote the game of hockey on Capitol Hill. “I think it was a horrific injury. We are sorry it happened in our fast-paced, physical game. But I don't think whether or not supplemental discipline is imposed would change what happened. In fact, people in the game I've heard from almost to a person . . . believe it was handled appropriately by hockey operations.”

    Obviously, Bettman hasn't spoken to  Pacioretty, who suffered a fractured vertraba in his neck and a severe concussion after a check from Chrara Tuesday night sent him headfirst into a divider between the benches. (Here's a link to the video.)  He told TSN's Bob McKenzie that he thought Chara deserved at least a couple games for the check. 

    Just because the league failed to act, Chara may not be totally off the hook. 

    Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions said was recommending an investigation of the incident, according to French-language news outlet  Rue Frontenac. The investigation will begin immediately, Montreal police Constable Olivier Lapointe, told  The Montreal Gazette.

    The Canadian Press reports Quebec has pursued three criminal cases in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League players since 2008, most notably Atlanta Thrashers prospect Patrice Cormier. The province has instituted strict laws in recent years in an attempt to curb hocky violence, which could come into play in Tuesday's incident.

    Here's a link to video Bettman at the panel discussion in Washington on Thursday via TSN.

    Photo: Getty Images

    Posted on: March 10, 2011 2:15 am
    Edited on: March 10, 2011 1:11 pm
     

    Morning Skate: Pacioretty says Chara had intent



    Count Max Pacioretty among those in and around Montreal miffed that Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara escaped a fine or suspension on Wednesday. 

    The 22-year-old Montreal Canadiens forward told TSN’s Bob McKenzie exactly what he thought about the league’s decision: 

    "I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him," Pacioretty told me. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's okay, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.

    "It's been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I've got a fractured vertebrae, I'm in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I'm not talking a big number, I don't know, one game, two games, three games...whatever, but something to show that it's not right."


    Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior V.P of hockey operations, said in a statement Wednesday the league could “find no basis to impose supplemental discipline” against Chara. All Chara received for his check on Pacioretty that caused a severe concussion and a fracture bone in Pacioretty was a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct on Tuesday. Here's a link to the video of the hit.

    "I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."


    The outrage was hardly limited to a patient room at Montreal General Hospital. Several fans called Montreal police to express their outrage, according to The Canadian Press

    The calls demanding criminal charges began Wednesday afternoon, shortly after the NHL announced it would neither suspend nor fine Chara for a brutal hit on the Habs' Max Pacioretty.

    While the league closed the books on the incident, and even Montreal Canadiens players remained tight-lipped, many of the team's livid fans demanded action.

    Police say their emergency call center started getting flooded around 4 p.m. -- after the NHL announced its decision.


    News of the inundation of emergency calls, also picked up by independent Bruins blog Stanley Cup of Chowder, is hardly surprising. Habs faithful took to Twitter to urge fans to “unfollow” the NHL’s official Twitter feed and cancel their Center Ice subscriptions. Canadian Sports Minister Gary Lunn urged the NHL needs to take such hits more seriously. Even Air Canada, a major corporate partner of the NHL, is threatening to withdraw its sponsorship dollars. 

    While there is precedence for it, there’s unlikely to be a criminal complaint filed against Chara -- especially if Pacioretty doesn’t pursue charges. 

    OVI BACK ON TRACK: He has points in six consecutive games. He finally scored his first power play goal at home this season. He seems to be his old jovial self on the bench.

    Is Washington Capitals superstar forward Alex Ovechkin finally back on his game?

    Ovechkin scored twice in the Caps' 5-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers at Verizon Center Wednesday night. Sure, the Oilers have the worst record in the league, but Ovechkin has played a role as Washington matched a season-best six game win streak.

    “I can’t remember (the team) scoring five goals in a game (recently),” said Ovechkin, who has three goals and seven assists over the last six games. “It was a good night for us and a good night for the fans too.”

    Ovechkin has 27 goals, so it's not out of the realm for him to reach 40 goals. It'd still be a career low, although he'd have some momentum heading into playoffs.

    WEDNESDAY'S RESULTS

    St. Louis 4, Columbus 3 (OT) 
    Washington 5, Edmonton 0 
    Atlanta 3, Carolina 2 (OT) 
    Tampa Bay 4, Chicago 3 (SO) 
    Los Angeles 2, Detroit 1 
    Calgary 4, Dallas 3 (SO) 
    Anaheim 5, NY Rangers
    Playoff tracker

    Photo: Getty Images
    Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:45 pm
    Edited on: March 9, 2011 5:59 pm
     

    Zdeno Chara escapes suspension for hit



    Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara escaped suspension for the check that left Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with a severe concussion and a fractured neck vertebra, the NHL announced Wednesday afternoon. 

    “After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline,” said Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior V.P of hockey operations, in a statement. “This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly -- with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards.”

    Instead of the boards, Pacioretty found the divider between the benches late in the second period of Tuesday’s game at Bell Center. Pacioretty’s head hit the turnbuckle and he crumpled to the ice, where he lay several minutes as medical personnel attended to him. (Here’s a link to the video.) Canadiens coach Jacques Martin described Pacioretty’s neck injury Wednesday as a non-displaced fracture of the fourth cervical vertebra.

    “I’m not a medical doctor,” Martin told The Montreal Gazette and other outlets after practice on Wednesday.  “What’s important is that there’s no displacement.

    “Our first concern (as an organization) is that he gets his health back as a human being. You hope he’ll recover and continue his career, but it’s too soon to know his (potential) limitations. He’s still under observation.”

    Martin added Pacioretty would be out of action indefinitely.  
    Chara, who also got into a scuffle with Pacioretty the pervious time these two teams met, was assessed a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct for the collision. 

    "The one thing that everybody here hopes, is that the human side of us wishes for (Pacioretty) to recover quickly and well," Bruins coach Claude Julien told Comcast SportsNet New England. "That would something that everybody hopes, here. I know that (Chara) is going through a lot of stuff right now, and is being perceived as a dirty player, which anybody who knows Z, knows that's not the case."

    Murphy said he not only took into account the video evidence, but the entirety of Chara’s 13-year NHL career. Chara drew an automatic one-game suspension under the NHL’s instigator rule as a member of the Ottawa Senators in December 2005, his only career suspension. 

    “I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous,” said Murphy, who handled the decision because Colin Campbell, the league’s normal disciplinarian, has a son, Gregory,  on the Bruins.  

    Before news Chara avoided a suspension broke, some of Pacioretty’s teammates openly wondered how such a veteran player like Chara could have been caught in that position.

    “I don’t know what Chara was thinking, what he felt or what his awareness was on the ice,” Habs forward Michael Cammalleri said on the team’s official website. “I can’t comment on his intent. There are two types of hits in hockey -- the kind that are strategic and tactical, designed to get the guy off the puck and make a play, and then there’s the kind when you catch another guy in a vulnerable position and try to inflict some damage. It’s how a lot of people are taught to play when they’re young, and it makes it a tough mandate to change that attitude.”

    For Pacioretty's linemate Scott Gomez, said something he heard was just as jarring as watching the collision. . 

    "What I remember about it was the sound -- it sounded like a gun: bang!" Gomez told The Associated Press. "Stuff like that is tough to look at."

    Photo: Getty Images
     
     
     
     
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