Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara will not receive a fine or suspension from the NHL for a hit that left Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with a fractured vertebrae and a severe concussion, the team announced Wednesday.
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Pacioretty, 22, appeared to be knocked out on the scary-looking play Tuesday night after he was checked by Chara late in the second period of the Canadiens’ 4-1 win.
"Max Pacioretty has a severe concussion, as well as a fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae, but it’s not displaced," Habs’ coach Jacques Martin confirmed following Wednesday’s practice. "Max will remain at the hospital for further observation. There will be no other prognosis for the time being, but he will obviously be out indefinitely."
On Tuesday night, the Canadiens announced that Pacioretty was conscious, talking, and moving his hands and feet.
Pacioretty was skating at full speed along the boards in pursuit of the puck, when Chara steered him into a glass partition near the Habs’ bench. Pacioretty laid motionless on the ice for several minutes and his eyes were closed as he was taken off on a stretcher.
Chara received a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.
“After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline," NHL senior vice president of hockey operations Mike Murphy said in a statement released by the league Wednesday afternoon. "This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly — with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards. I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, 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."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said his star defenseman had no intention of injuring Pacioretty on the play.
"Knowing (Chara) as I know him, there was no intent to injure … he plays hard, he plays clean … He’s always been a clean player," Julien said Wednesday.
The NHL agreed with that sentiment, stating in a release that the fact that he has never received discipline before was a factor in the decision.
“This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface," Murphy said. "In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career."
At 6-foot-9, Chara is the tallest player ever to play in the NHL and weighs in at 255 pounds. The five-time All-Star won the Norris Trophy in 2009 as the league’s best defenseman.