Another day and another opportunity for the National Hockey League to do the right thing.
This time it has to do with punishing the guilty party even if he is a star player and a major part of Boston's playoff-bound Bruins. What Zdeno Chara did to the Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty calls for a suspension, a serious one, something in the Trevor Gillies range. Call it nine games, 10 games, you get the picture.
Yes, there are differences between what Chara did and what Gillies did. There will always be differences between one player acting badly and another. But the essence of the matter remains the player's careless, reckless doings on the ice. That's what needs to be addressed.
Chara bas been around the block long enough to know where they were and what could happen to Pacioretty's head. As an NHL player once explained it, "We're pro hockey players for a reason. We have skills. We're trained to read situations and think fast. Knowing where you are on the ice becomes second nature."
So Chara can play the 'I never meant to hurt him card' but it doesn't wash. He knew the risks; he squeezed Pacioretty into the boards and off the partition glass. Not good, not smart, utterly punishable.
As hockey observers, we were all quick to cluck how a forced salary cap was merely a way for the owners' to protect themselves from their own stupidity. Now it's the players who need protection from their actions. Suspensions are a start.
But beyond that, the game is crying for a critical examination, a change in how players' play and react on the ice. Sidney Crosby would probably agree.
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