(Today on the usually excellent Backhand Shelf Podcast, Jake Goldsbie remarked that “Pacioretty won the Masterton Trophy for beating himself up on a stanchion. To rebut this offensively counterfactual statement, BGS reproduces here what was written at the time of the incident. Please enjoy, and remember that blaming the victim is silly, so, Habs fans, tr not to boo Chara too loudly next time he’s on the ice.)
Montreal, QC- And in one moment, Zdeno Chara’s career changed. Hustling for the puck against reputed Montreal Canadiens diver, Max Pacioretty, Chara attempted a routine check on the streaking forward to separate him from the puck- which vanished from all replays- when Pacioretty attempted to sell an interference call by flinging himself face first into the stanchion, silencing the Bell Centre and forcing the referees to eject Chara from a close divisional rivalry game with seeding implications.
Pacioretty knocked himself unconscious on the play and lay prone on the ice for several minutes as interns from the National Theatre School of Canada dressed up as doctors loaded him onto a stretcher before sending him to the hospital for tests. The spectators were so taken in by Pacioretty’s performance, that they immediately booed the Bruins captain, even though according to Chara’s coach and teammates, he is not “that kind of guy”.
Said Chara on the hit:
“I was riding him out and unfortunately, I leaned and he jumped a bit and he hit the extension,” said Chara. “Obviously it wasn’t my intention to push him into the partition. Things happen fast. That’s not my style. I play hard, physical, but I never try to hurt someone.”
Jacques Martin, the director of the Lord Chamberlin’s Men, did not drop the act even after the referee incorrectly awarded the Canadiens a 5 minute major for interference:
“It’s serious when you see an injury like that,” said Montreal coach Jacques Martin. “The league has to deal with those issues. It’s not the first time. It seems to be getting worse and worse. It was a dangerous hit.”
Following the hit, journalists rushed to the defence of Chara, pointing out that, upon watching replays of the hit, there was clearly no intent on the part of Chara to build the Bell Centre’s arena to include the middle stanchion that Pacioretty jumped into. Equally absurd is the claim coming from certain corners of the French press that Chara’s actions were clearly premeditated as evidenced by his degree in Architecture and Engineering earned from the Technical University of Košice before undertaking his hockey career.
When reached for comment in the Bruins dressing room, rookie Brad Marchand, clearly disgusted with what he sees as a lack of respect for the game, commented that “The Oscar’s were last week”.
Pacioretty’s act was so convincing that doctors at the Montreal General wasted valuable public resources in submitting Pacioretty to a battery of tests that, perhaps inevitably, came back negative. Obviously also supporters of the Montreal Canadiens, the doctors kept Pacioretty overnight in the hopes of the NHL’s head office suspending Chara.
Only time will tell if the league office will finally put its collective foot down and suspend Pacioretty for hurting Chara’s feelings and causing him to hide in the Bruins’ team bus until a PR executive convinced him to meet the media post-game and comment on the suicide attempt.
Either way, this rivalry continues to heat up and bear out the prophetic words of Marchand: “They like to get in and shoot their mouths of and then when you hit them they’ll dive down and fall easy.” Anticipation for the rematch in Boston at the end of the month will certain draw interest from various corners of the acting community, as Meryl Streep and Anthony Hopkins have been rumoured to have bought tickets immediately after hearing of the performance.
With files from Associated Press.