In case you missed it, the Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty tweeted this late Monday: “My thoughts and prayers are with Nathan Horton and his family right now . . . hoping for the best for him.”
Are you paying attention Dr. Recchi? And by the way, what’s your view on the “severe concussion” diagnosis now?
Someone has to say it, so here goes: how is Aaron Rome on Nathan Horton appreciably different from Zdeno Chara on Pacioretty four months ago?
Other than the fact that the Vancouver player offered an immediate apology, of course, and that Chara got off scot-free because it was deemed a “hockey play”.
The time lapse between the puck leaving Pacioretty’s stick and Chara shoving him into the stanchion with his forearm and elbow is more or less the same as in Monday’s incident.
The only significant difference in the build-up to both incidents is that Chara was physically closer to the Montreal forward than Rome was to Horton as he cruised through the neutral zone.
But the salient points are more or less identical: puck gone, top-six forward unaware and vulnerable, defenceman makes the decision to plow the guy anyway, said forward carried off on a stretcher after his head slams into a hard surface.
So why is the NHL, once again, revealing itself unable to remain consistent in attributing fault and doling out the appropriate punishment?
And is it really a good idea to determine the length of suspensions on the basis of the injury suffered by a player? Dangerous is dangerous regardless of result, no?
Think of how differently teams like, say, the Bruins would have to play if you couldn’t step into guys once the puck is gone.
This post should not be misrepresented as excusing Rome’s gesture, which is as unacceptable as Chara’s - but the league, even if it has ultimately arrived at the right verdict, shouldn’t get a pass for having fumbled and bumbled its way there.
Memo to Mike Murphy, don’t consult other hockey executives outside the league office on these things - not ever.
For the Bruins to jump up and down over this incident is also a tiny bit much (even if their supporters can now walk a mile in Habs fans’ shoes).
But intellectual honesty and self-criticism aren’t exactly essential characteristics in an NHL locker room.
As usual, hockey players get upset when their guy is laid out on the ice, but circle the wagons when their guy is doing the dishing.
Until that that attitude is overcome, this stuff will keep happening.
Hey, it’s not like the league has demonstrated it can be counted on to consistently do the right thing.