by Richard McAdam aka RGM81

The following text is a copy of the letter I sent to the NHL Head Office in New York yesterday regarding the illegal and devastating hit by Zdeno Chara on Max Pacioretty, and the subsequent lack of supplementary disciplinary action by the NHL against Chara for the hit.

The NHL Response to the Chara/Pacioretty Incident

Richard McAdam

National Hockey League
1251 Ave Of The Americas # 47
New York, NY 10020
USA
(212) 789-2000

March 10, 2011

To Whom It May Concern,

I am outraged at the decision of the NHL’s disciplinary committee regarding the incident involving Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins and Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens. How Mr. Murphy could be so callous as to describe Chara’s actions as being a “hockey play” absolutely defies all common sense. It was an illegal action, as deemed by the on-ice official who called a five-minute major penalty and assessed a game misconduct to Chara. There are many precedents set by your disciplinary committee that intent, which was clearly the prevailing factor in decision in this case, is secondary to the outcome of the play. The best example of this took place when Alexander Ovechkin was suspended in March 2010, Mr. Campbell stated that the play which injured Brian Campbell was “reckless” and that even though there was no intent to injure, players must be held responsible for their actions when those actions result in another player being injured. How is it that this standard does not apply in this situation?

The replays indicate that Chara was fully aware of where he was on the ice, and that his hand/elbow guided Pacioretty’s head so that it had nowhere to go but “the turnbuckle” seemingly suggests that there was some intent on the play. I am certain beyond a reasonable doubt that Chara did not intend to break Pacioretty’s neck and severely concuss him. But I am shocked and appalled that Mr. Murphy concluded that he could find no evidence “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.” Chara is 6’9” – he doesn’t have to leave his feet to hit anybody in the NHL. Pacioretty himself stated—after the suspension was handed down, from his hospital bed—that he felt that his head was targeted and that Chara “was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle.”

In your rush to sweep this incident under the carpet and trumpet the machismo of the game by stating that illegal (as deemed by the on-ice official) plays which can result in catastrophic injury are “hockey play[s]” and thus just part of the game, you have failed miserably to demonstrate that the NHL is concerned with protecting its players. A promising career of a 22-year old man now hangs in the balance because he has a fractured vertebrae and a severe concussion. You have chosen not to hold the player responsible for the condition of Max Pacioretty accountable for his thoroughly reckless, dangerous, and unnecessary play. In the warped mentality of the NHL, sitting out the third period of a game in which the Bruins were trailing 4-0 is sufficient punishment for potentially ruining a man’s career and indeed his very quality of life. I find this absolutely reprehensible and disgusting.

I have been a hockey fan for my entire life. I have attended games, I have acquired a large amount of memorabilia of my favourite teams and players, and I have always supported the game. What the NHL has done in turning a blind eye to incidents such as this makes it incredibly difficult for me to continue supporting the NHL. Tonight, March 10th, features a game that I have been anticipating for many months, as the Montreal Canadiens take on the St. Louis Blues. And yet, I find that my level of interest in the outcome of this game is severely diminished because my thoughts are first and foremost focused on the well-being of Max Pacioretty, and the utter failure of your League and its disciplinary committee to hold Zdeno Chara accountable for his actions. Most damning to the credibility of the League’s disciplinary committee is the statement that “Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career.” If this transpires again a week from now and another player is injured by Chara, because of your inaction here, Chara will still not have been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career. Mr. Murphy could not even see fit to hand out a token and pithy 1-game suspension or issue a fine to establish that Chara would have a supplementary discipline history on his record. That is an egregious level of negligence, and a slap in the face to Max Pacioretty.

The NHL has a serious credibility problem on its hands when it comes to policing its players. It has allowed the best player in the world, Sidney Crosby, to be injured. The League even had a second chance after the David Steckel blindside hit to the head, when Victor Hedman slammed Crosby’s head into the glass on a hit from behind. It failed on both occasions. The best player in the world has not played a game since January and continues to endure the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome brought on by hits to the head. I suppose that I should not have been surprised to learn that Chara would not be suspended for breaking the neck of Max Pacioretty. After all, the NHL did nothing to protect its best player or take action against those who injured him. Since there’s no such thing as special treatment for superstars in the NHL, and all players are equal, if you don’t protect Crosby why would you protect Pacioretty. That is the issue the NHL faces based on the precedents it has set. It is shameful, and I hope that the people responsible feel the full wrath of the players, the fans, and the media for the abject negligence to step up and say that enough is enough and start doing something to restore justice in the NHL.

Sincerely,

Richard McAdam