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Tag:Zdeno Chara
Posted on: March 14, 2011 3:12 pm
Edited on: March 14, 2011 6:01 pm
 

Bettman introduces measures to curb concussions



NHL commissioner Gary Bettman introduced a five-step plan to reduce concussions on the first day of the league’s general managers meetings on Monday. 

"There's no one single thing that is causing concussions," Bettman said. "In fact, the trend as to why concussions happen is different than a lot of people are suggesting or speculating."

Here’s the proposal Bettman laid out in Boca Raton, Fla., to stem the league's vexing concussion problem: 
  • Brendan Shanahan, the former NHL player who now serves as NHL vice-president of hockey and business development, will work with manufacturers to improve equipment. One thought, Bettman said, is to make player equipment smaller.
  • The NHL, the first major North American sports with a concussion protocol, will revise its guidelines. If a player is thought to have a concussion, he must be removed from the bench and put in a quiet area where he’ll be assessed by a doctor, not just an athletic trainer. He will then be required to undergo the most recent Sport Concussion Assessment Tool. Here's a look at the SCAT2 protocol.
  • Coaches and the team will be penalized for players deemed to repeat offenders to rules that prohibit hits to the head. Call it the Trevor Gillies Rule. This will have to be approved by the Board of Governors, so it won't be in place until next season.
  • Safety engineers will conduct an inspection of each of the league’s 30 rinks to make sure they conform to new safety standards. This comes days after some experts pointed to the lack of sufficient padding on the divider Montreal’s Max Pacioretty collided with after a check form Boston’s Zdeno Chara.  The league will look at banning seamless glass currently in use at six rinks. 
  • The league will assemble a “blue ribbon panel” to continue studying concussions. The panel will include former NHL defenseman Rob Blake, Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman and Dallas GM Joe Nieuwendyk and will work with the competition committee to suggest new rules to protect players.


"We welcome these steps and look forward to discussing these and other issues with the NHL to provide a safer working environment for the players," National Hockey League Players’ AssociationExecutive Director Don Fehr said in a statement.

The general managers were shown a video breakdown of almost every concussion over the last two seasons along with statistical data, which revealed accidental concussions have nearly doubled from a season ago.

Bettman said 70 percent of concussions this season had accidental causes, like legal hits, teammates running into one another or players taking a puck off the head. Illegal hits accounted for 17 percent -- down nine percent from 2009-10 -- and fighting resulted in eight percent of concussions. The cause of the reaming concussions could not be determined. 

"This notion that the players have no respect for each other and they're going around hitting each other on the head on a regular basis and that's what's causing all the concussions just isn't accurate," Bettman said.

-- A.J. Perez

Photo: Getty Images

Posted on: March 11, 2011 3:58 am
Edited on: March 11, 2011 4:14 am
 

Report: Gary Bettman gets five-year extension

This could be why Gary Bettman doesn't seem bothered by the backlash the league has received for its decision not to suspend Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, the latest tumult in his 18-year tenure as NHL Commissioner. 

Bettman had his contract quietly extended five more years back in November, The Globe and Mail reported Friday. The newspaper reports that the nine-member executive committee unanimously approved the extension. 

Bettman's current contract, which pays him $7.2 million annually, was originally set to expire this summer. Apparenlty, one of his biggest backers may very well be the owner of the team at the center of this week's controversy.
What will surely fire up the conspiracy theorists, who have been venting loudly on all forms of media following Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens, is the identity of the driving force behind Bettman’s new contract. It is Jeremy Jacobs, the NHL’s chairman of the board of governors who just happens to own the Boston Bruins, the team that employs Chara. However, as chairman, one of Jacobs’s duties is to keep the commissioner and the other key executives of the NHL under contract.

Bettman confirmed via e-mail he received an extension. “Old news. I believe my contract has been extended four times, each time with the approval of the board of governors,” he said.


Bettman, who was part of a panel convened to promote hockey on Capitol Hill on Thursday, didn't sweat the fact that Air Canada and seemingly all of Quebec was angered the league didn't give Chara at least a token suspension. Here's a look at that video

Bettman has never been a fan-favorite. He gets blamed for the lockout that wiped out the 2004-05 season, his efforts to keep the Phoenix Coyotes from moving to Canada, his expansion to non-traditional markets, the fact that the NHL is no longer on ESPN and even the glowing puck. Since he's the guy at the top, he also gets his share of the blame for what often seems to be uneven discipline -- even if the former NBA exec leaves those issues to his hockey operations staff. 

Lost is the fact that Bettman is popular among the only contingent that counts: the league's 30  owners. (OK. The league runs the Coyotes, so that one is a given.). He's gotten them a salary cap and the league, overall, is strong financially. 
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 4:00 pm
 

Playoff Watch: Chara, Bruins get back to hockey



Buffalo Sabres (32-26-8) at Boston Bruins (38-20-10)

TD Garden, 7 pm ET

SEASON SERIES: Buffalo 3-1-1; Boston 2-2-1

IMPLICATIONS: The Sabres could move up a spot to seventh, displacing the idle New York Rangers. (Both would have 74 points, but Buffalo gets the edge with two games in hand after tonight.) The Bruins could advance to second place in the East with a victory. (Boston and idle Washington would each have 86 points, but the Bruins would have a game in hand.) Here's a look at our plaoff tracker.

BREAKDOWN: Despite all the outcry, Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will indeed be in the lineup tonight. He told CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty that he was “relieved” that he would not sit for his check Tuesday night that seriously injured Montreal’s Max Pacioretty

"I’m satisfied and happy about it. Relieved,” Chara said. “They looked at it and made a decision, and I respect that.”

While Pacioretty’s injury understandably took the spotlight off the scoreboard, the Bruins 4-1 loss was a rare hiccup of late. Still, the Bruins enter 7-1-1 in their last nine games.

Buffalo is 3-1-1 through the first six games of its seven-game, 12-day trip. The Sabres will get winger Thomas Vanek back in the lineup tonight after he missed Tuesday’s game with flu-like symptoms. 

MATCHUP TO WATCH: Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller vs. Boston goalie Tim Thomas. These two former teammates from the Team USA’s silver-medal run at last year’s Winter Olympics are both on their game. Thomas, who may have been injured in practice and sat out Tuesday’s game in Montreal, is 14-4-4 in his last 22 games and hasn’t been beaten in regulation over this last four starts. Miller made 28 saves in a 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday, his first start since getting a rare night off last weekend. 

KEY STAT: 6. Among the Sabres' final 16 games, that's how many teams are currenlty in the playoff picture. 

Photo: Getty Images
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
Posted on: March 9, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 1:25 pm
 

Pacioretty has neck fracture, severe concussion

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty suffered neck fracture and a severe concussion as result of a brutal headfirst collision with a divider after a check from Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on Tuesday night. 

Montreal coach Jacques Martin described Pacioretty’s neck injury Wednesday as a non-displaced fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae. Pacioretty appears to have avoided an injury to his spinal cord.

“Max will remain at the hospital for further observation,” Martin said in a statement. “There will be no other prognosis for the time being, but he will obviously be out indefinitely. The most important thing for our organization right now is Max’s recovery. We will continue following recommendations from the doctors and of course, Max and his immediate family would appreciate privacy in this matter.”

Pacioretty lay on the ice for several minutes, but was conscious and able to move his extremities as he was transported to the hospital. Here’s a link to our orginial story (with video) and another post on whether Chara, who was given an interference minor and ejected, should be suspended. 

Chara had a confernce call with league officials earlier today, The Boston Globe reports
 
 
 
 
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