As I expected Pacioretty will face supplementary discipline for his hit on Kris Letang Saturday night. Most people, myself included, expected 2 games for the sniper. I did also have the notion in the back of my head that Pacioretty could get upwards of 4-5 games, solely based on penalties given out earlier this season to other players who delivered hits similar to this one. I have mixed feelings about a 3 game suspension. Here’s Shanny with his explaination.
Sure, the head was the principal point of contact, that alone is good for 3 though? I know the past is done but there is something wrong with disciplinary settlements and the Habs. Here is a full comparison of the past 3 major player safety issues involving Canadiens.
Chara on Pacioretty
Date: March 2011
Injuries suffered on play: broken neck, concussion
Injury length: Out from games action for 6+ months
Principal point of contact:
Intent: There is video of Chara saying “I will get him back” while reffering to Pacioretty after a little dust up, this was prior to the display of toilet contents that took place in March. Even Don Cherry brought this up on an episode of “Coach’s Corner”. Both He & I aren’t suggesting he put him into the turnbuckle on purpose, but there is no way Chara didn’t know it was Pacioretty streaking down the wing.
Penalty called on play: 5 minute major + ejection.
Other points: The hit was so vicious, the police got involved to investigate the presence of criminal offence. Chara wasn’t charged, but the fact that the police has to get involved, just shows how malicious the play was. That should be common sense, but apparently not. Also NHL sponsors such as Air Canada threatened to revoke their sponsorship.
Disciplinary action: Nothing.
Malone on Campoli
Date: September 2011
Injuries suffered on play: Nothing significant. Campoli would tear his hamstring the very next game, he has not played since.
Injury length: N/A
Principal point of contact: Nothing but head.
It’s hard to see since not as many pictures were taken, partly because Montreal and Tampa don’t have a rivalry, and also because this was only a pre-season game. Though, you can see Campoli’s being the principal point of contact.
Intent: No evidence to justify the presence of intent.
Penalty called on play: Insufficient archive information results in me forgetting if there was or was not. Malone did get 5 for fighting afterwards though.
Other Points: Malone admitted that he believed a call from Shannanhan was in his future. Pacioretty/Chara incident was taken much more seriously.
Disciplinary Action: Nothing.
Pacioretty on Letang
Date: November 2011
Injuries suffered on play: Broken nose.
Injury length: 3 minutes
Principal point of contact:
To the head and shoulder area. There is no debating it, the head was the principal point of contact while the rest of his body was hit merely milliseconds after. The question is, was the head targeted? I say no. In the video he can be seen to shift his weight onto his right leg, away from Letang. The outcome could have been much worse if Pacioretty has kept his weight on his left left and went right through Letang.
Intent: As mentioned above, he let up a smidgen prior to the hit. Pacioretty was also repoted to have apologized to Letang after the game; A move described by Letang as “classy”.
Penalty called on play: Nothing.
Other Points: Letang returned to score the winner in OT.
Disciplinary Action: Suspended 3 games.
To prove my point better, analysis would be the next logical step. Obviously, when it comes to injury and injury length Pacioretty takes the crown, the others do not even compare. In all three hits, the head was the principal point of contact, exactly the kinds of hits that the NHL are trying to eliminate from hockey. The Chara hit is only presented to show how dumb the NHL’s process is, so here goes.
You are trying to protect players to the best of your abilities, yet your rules make it so your objective is unattainable. Pacioretty breaks his neck, there is no discipline because according to your rules, the one responsible does not have to be held responsible, there is nothing to deter Chara from doing it again.
The NHL world wouldn’t want what happened to Crosby to happen again would we? I don’t think we can afford to have the face of the NHL sidelined for close to a year because of reckless acts that are not insured by the NHL rulebook. If nothing changes, we run the risk of the same thing happening to an Ovechkin, a Malkin, a Sedin, a Stamkos or any of the bright young stars soon to be in the limelight (for example, Pacioretty). A rule change has to be imminent, or we run the risk of falling into a vicious circle. Dangerous, reckless plays, that aren’t necessarily on purpose, will continue to occur and injure our favourite players.
An acceptable change would be what Sidney Crosby is pushing for: Indefinite penalties for any hit where the head is just not targeted, but made the principal point of contact. Simple as that. I believe that if this rule is implemented, we will see less and less players falling to nonpunishable hits.
This rule could also extinguish the uproar of Habs’ fans screaming at the injustice that has fell upon them. We have the evidence too. All of those in Habs’ nation are well aware that Pacioretty’s hit was questionable and most know that a suspension was just. What baffles us is the fact that hits that are exactly the same, go without punishment. There is no better example than the hit delivered on Chris Campoli by Ryan Malone this past preseason. If you take picture of both of the hits, then flip one of them, they are exactly the same.
I don’t think anyone can debate the similarities of the two hits, but the argument of what transpired before the hit is the reason for the indifference in discipline would be brought up. In the Shannahan explanation video, he makes it clear that Campoli moved the positioning of his head just prior to the hit. (likewise happened with Letang when he crouched to make his shot, but Shanny forgot to mention that). That seemed to be deciding factor in each of the cases, what happened before the hit. With that logic, imagine a player is killed in a hit-to-the-head scenario, but slightly changes the positioning of his head prior to the hit, that would then mean the player hitting the now dead hypothetical player will be held unaccountable? Leaving me to infer that the blame is being placed on the dead player? That doesn’t seem right.
If the hits in question were to be judged solely on the hit, along with its outcome, and not what happens prior the hit, players would be more cognizant of what they were doing and more aware of the opposing players head and their locations, therefore reducing the amount of head hits and showing that most of the dangerous “accidental” hits these days are in fact avoidable. Then again, it’s just an ideal, so was communism, we all know how that turned out. I think it will work, but maybe not, we just have to try.