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Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 5:59 pm
 

Zdeno Chara escapes suspension for hit



Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara escaped suspension for the check that left Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty with a severe concussion and a fractured neck vertebra, the NHL announced Wednesday afternoon. 

“After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline,” said Mike Murphy, the NHL’s Senior V.P of hockey operations, in a statement. “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.”

Instead of the boards, Pacioretty found the divider between the benches late in the second period of Tuesday’s game at Bell Center. Pacioretty’s head hit the turnbuckle and he crumpled to the ice, where he lay several minutes as medical personnel attended to him. (Here’s a link to the video.) Canadiens coach Jacques Martin described Pacioretty’s neck injury Wednesday as a non-displaced fracture of the fourth cervical vertebra.

“I’m not a medical doctor,” Martin told The Montreal Gazette and other outlets after practice on Wednesday.  “What’s important is that there’s no displacement.

“Our first concern (as an organization) is that he gets his health back as a human being. You hope he’ll recover and continue his career, but it’s too soon to know his (potential) limitations. He’s still under observation.”

Martin added Pacioretty would be out of action indefinitely.  
Chara, who also got into a scuffle with Pacioretty the pervious time these two teams met, was assessed a major boarding penalty and a game misconduct for the collision. 

"The one thing that everybody here hopes, is that the human side of us wishes for (Pacioretty) to recover quickly and well," Bruins coach Claude Julien told Comcast SportsNet New England. "That would something that everybody hopes, here. I know that (Chara) is going through a lot of stuff right now, and is being perceived as a dirty player, which anybody who knows Z, knows that's not the case."

Murphy said he not only took into account the video evidence, but the entirety of Chara’s 13-year NHL career. Chara drew an automatic one-game suspension under the NHL’s instigator rule as a member of the Ottawa Senators in December 2005, his only career suspension. 

“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,” said Murphy, who handled the decision because Colin Campbell, the league’s normal disciplinarian, has a son, Gregory,  on the Bruins.  

Before news Chara avoided a suspension broke, some of Pacioretty’s teammates openly wondered how such a veteran player like Chara could have been caught in that position.

“I don’t know what Chara was thinking, what he felt or what his awareness was on the ice,” Habs forward Michael Cammalleri said on the team’s official website. “I can’t comment on his intent. There are two types of hits in hockey -- the kind that are strategic and tactical, designed to get the guy off the puck and make a play, and then there’s the kind when you catch another guy in a vulnerable position and try to inflict some damage. It’s how a lot of people are taught to play when they’re young, and it makes it a tough mandate to change that attitude.”

For Pacioretty's linemate Scott Gomez, said something he heard was just as jarring as watching the collision. . 

"What I remember about it was the sound -- it sounded like a gun: bang!" Gomez told The Associated Press. "Stuff like that is tough to look at."

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 9, 2011 12:51 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 1:25 pm
 

Pacioretty has neck fracture, severe concussion

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty suffered neck fracture and a severe concussion as result of a brutal headfirst collision with a divider after a check from Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on Tuesday night. 

Montreal coach Jacques Martin described Pacioretty’s neck injury Wednesday as a non-displaced fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae. Pacioretty appears to have avoided an injury to his spinal cord.

“Max will remain at the hospital for further observation,” Martin said in a statement. “There will be no other prognosis for the time being, but he will obviously be out indefinitely. The most important thing for our organization right now is Max’s recovery. We will continue following recommendations from the doctors and of course, Max and his immediate family would appreciate privacy in this matter.”

Pacioretty lay on the ice for several minutes, but was conscious and able to move his extremities as he was transported to the hospital. Here’s a link to our orginial story (with video) and another post on whether Chara, who was given an interference minor and ejected, should be suspended. 

Chara had a confernce call with league officials earlier today, The Boston Globe reports
Posted on: March 9, 2011 12:20 pm
Edited on: March 9, 2011 12:26 pm
 

Pens extend Dan Bylsma three more seasons



Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma agreed to a three-year contract extension that will run through the 2013-14 season, the team announced Wednesday. 

Understandably, the highlight of his 25-month tenure behind the Pens’ bench is leading the team to the 2009 Stanley Cup title, a run that began not long after Bylsma took over for Michel Therrien. But it could be this season’s tutelage that Bylsma might deserve even more credit as he’s kept the Pens in the hunt for the Eastern Conference crown despite a rash of injuries. 

The team has been without star center Sidney Crosby (concussion) for nearly two months and it lost forward Evgeni Malkin to season-ending knee injury on Feb 4. The team also had to start the first two months of the season minus forward Jordan Staal, who was sidelined by foot and hand injuries. 

“Dan has very quickly established himself as one of the best coaches in the National Hockey League,” GM Ray Shero said in a news release. “He has been a perfect fit for our organization since day one, and we look forward to having him leading our team for the next three seasons.

Bylsma, 40, has accumulated a 104-52-19 record in Pittsburgh and he has the highest winning percentage (.649) in franchise history. 

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. 
Posted on: March 9, 2011 3:50 am
 

Morning Skate: Should Chara be suspended?



Montreal Canadiens coach Jacque Martin all but called for the suspension of Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, who minutes earlier Tuesday sent young Habs forward Max Pacioretty to the hospital for at least an overnight stay. 

“The league has to deal with those issues,” Martin told reporters after his team’s 4-1 victory over the Burins at Bell Center, a game marred by the scary collision. “It’s not the first time. It seems to be getting worse. The league has to take some responsibility.”

As frightening as Pacioretty’s headfirst collision with the so-called turnbuckle, word came out later that he was able to move all his extremities and was conscious. His agent, Alec Schall, sent a message via Twitter that Pacioretty “is going to be OK.”

There’s no telling how long the 22-year-old from Connecticut will be out of action, but debate raged into the morning on how long Chara should sit -- if at all.

Chara said the hit that sent Pacioretty into the divider between the benches was the result of a few unfortunate events. Here’s a link to video of the incident along with more details

“We were racing for the puck and battling for position,” Chara told reporters after the game. “I was riding him out and it was very unfortunate that at the same time I pushed him, he kind of leaned and jumped up a little bit and hit the glass extension.”

Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said Chara is not a dirty player, something that’s not really in dispute. But there are a few things working against Chara: his scuffle with Pacioretty the last time these two rivals met, the score (it was 4-0 when Pacioretty went down in the final minute of the second period), the fact the puck was already well up ice when he finished the check and the recent scrutiny of head injuries. 

TSN’s Bob McKenzie wrote that it’s hardly an easy decision for the league’s disciplinarians, who could be minus VP Colin Campbell’s voice since his son, Gregory, plays for Boston.

Personally, I didn't see or sense any malice or obvious intent to injure on the play but one would have to be a mind reader to know for certain what exactly Chara was thinking at that moment. Who knows, really?


Chara was given an interference penalty and a game misconduct becaues Pacioretty was injured on the play. Since the Bruins don’t play again until Thursday, the league has a little bit of time to figure out if any more punishment is needed. 

BETTMAN TAKES A STAND: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman hasn't given up in hockey in Arizona, even if it appears to be the easiest path once again. 

The Goldwater Institute, a public policy group, who is seeking legal action to stop the City of Glendale's $100 million bond sale that would clear way for Chicago investor Matthew Hulsizer to take over the Phoenix Coyotes

The Arizona Republic reported the latest Tuesday:

"It's time for Goldwater to stand down," he said. "In light of their conduct in this matter, I question whether this is really an organization concerned with the public interest."

Bettman affirmed the league continues to support the city's deal with team buyer Matthew Hulsizer.

"Our commitment remains as strong as ever," he said. "But time is running out."



The Vancouver Sun's Cam Cole said the NHL is going to let Glendale to explore every option before the franchise is allowed back into Canada. 

If it were put to a vote of the NHL player membership at large, rest assured the league would be back to three Canadian cities, not thinking about adding a seventh in one of the coldest, windiest parts of the land — and Phoenix would be granted exempt status as a destination of choice, unto eternity, regardless of viability as a hockey market.


FORMER NHLERS VISIT TROOPS: NHL Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald, former NHL goaltender Mark LaForest and retired forward Pierre Turgeon were in a group of former players who visited Afghanistan on Tuesday.

They met some of the 2,800 Canadians serving in Afghanistan and even played in a pickup ball hockey game, which was dubbed "Hockey Morning in Kandahar." 

"Everyone's thankful that we're here, but I've got to be honest with you, it's just a privilege for us to be here," Turgeon told The Canadian Press.

 Comedian Tom Green was the celebrity component of this of the trip, so we’re guessing fellow Canadian Bryan Adams was on tour. 


TUESDAY’S RESULTS 
Philadelphia 4, Edmonton 1
NY Islanders 4 Toronto 3 (OT)
Ottawa 2, New Jersey 1
Pittsburgh, 3 Buffalo 1
Montreal 4, Boston 1
Florida 3, Chicago 2
Minnesota5, Colorado 2
Vancouver 4, Phoenix 3 (OT)
San Jose 3, Nashville 2 (OT)

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 8, 2011 9:41 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 10:50 pm
 

Montreal's Max Pacioretty carted off ice

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty lay motionless on the ice for several minutes after a check from hulking Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara sent him headfirst into a divider between the benches late in the second period at Bell Center Tuesday night. 

Pacioretty, 22, was attended to immediately by medical personnel and he was taken off the ice on a stretcher. The Canadiens said Pacioretty was conscious, talking and moving both his hands and feet en route to the hospital. Habs coach Jacques Martin said after the game that Pacioretty would spend the night at the hospital.

Chara received a minor penalty for interference and was ejected as result of the hit.

“I knew we were somewhere close to our bench,” Chara told reporters after the game. “Obviously, that wasn't my intention to push him to the post. It's very unfortunate. In that situation, everything is happening fast. It's not my style to hurt somebody. I always play hard, play physical, but I have never tried to hurt anybody. I hope he's OK.”

Asked if he thought a suspension might be in the offing, Chara replied, "I don't see it."

Martin, however, had a another take. 

"You saw the hit," Martin said. "It was a dangerous hit."

The collision occurred with 16 seconds left in the second period with Montreal ahead, 4-0. (Those seconds were added to the third period as the Habs earned a 4-1 win.) The last time these two Original Six franchises played, there was a dozen fights and 182 penalty minutes. 

“What people have to understand is that Zdeno is not a dirty player,” Boston coach Claude Julien told NESN after the game. “He never meant for that to happen. If anything he tired to run him out on the boards. Unfortunately, it was the partition that did the damage. If it's anywhere else on the ice, it's a normal interference call at worst.”

Here's a look at the hit below. Another view of the collision and aftermath from French-language Canadian sports network RDS can be seen here.

Posted on: March 8, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: March 8, 2011 1:49 pm
 

Playoff watch: Bruins, Habs set for another round


Boston Bruins (38-19-8) at Montreal Canadiens (36-23-7) 

Bell Centre, 7:30 pm ET

SEASON SERIES: Boston 1-2-1; Montreal 3-1-0  

IMPLICATIONS: A Boston win and a Flyers loss Tuesday would pull the top two teams in East even in the points department. (Flyers would still technically be in first since they'd still have more wins.) Montreal could pull within three points of the Northeast lead with a regulation win. 

BREAKDOWN: The Habs won the first three meetings, outscoring the Bruins 10-6 in those games. Then came their last meeting, a slugfest Boston won, 8-6, on Feb. 9. That contest included 45 penalties for a total of 182 minutes -- and two of the dozen fighting majors was the result of a goalie fight (above) between Montreal's Carey Price and Boston's Tim Thomas

“It was pretty crazy,” Boston forward Milan Lucic told CSNNE.com's Joe Haggerty. “Especially that second period with eight goals scored, and four for each side. I remember watching the highlights later and hearing  (Bruins play-by-play announcer) Jack (Edwards), say ‘Mercy.’ It was fun to be in, and I know our fans talk about it and remember it.”

The same goalies in net for the last meeting are expected to get the call again tonight. Last game was long on penalties, but short on saves. 

MATCHUP TO WATCH:  Boston LW  Milan Lucic vs. Montreal LW Michael Cammalleri.  Cammalleri took a “therapy day” on Monday, a day away from the rink that might have been needed since he has two points in the seven games since he returned from injury. The Bruins are nearly perfect, 21-1-0, when Lucic scores, something he did twice in the last meeting. 

KEY STAT: 710. The total number of meetings between these two Orginal Six clubs, second only to Detroit vs. Chicago (712).
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 8, 2011 1:31 am
Edited on: March 8, 2011 12:20 pm
 

Morning skate: Crosby's sister suffers concussion



Taylor Crosby, the sister of Pittsburgh Penguins star center Sidney Crosby, recently suffered the same injury that has kept her big brother sidelined for more than two months. 

The Toronto Star reports that 14-year-old Taylor, a goalie, was injured two weeks ago during a practice for her under-16 team at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a prep school in Minnesota. Taylor -- shown above with Sidney, mother, Trina, and father, Troy -- has since returned to the ice.

Dr. Charles Tator, a leading expert on brain injuries in Canada, said having multiple family members suffer concussions isn't uncommon, pointing to the Lindros brothers as one example. 

“I know several families that have all had concussions,” said Tator. “We do wonder whether some families have a special susceptibility to concussion. But there’s no proof for this.”

Twelve NHL players were listed as injured with concussions on Monday and three more with “head injuries” and one with “dizziness,” according to The Toronto Star. A Pittsburgh Penguins spokesperson told the newspaper there has been no change in Sidney Crosby’s status.

The topic of concussions will be a key issue discussed at next week's GM meetings in Florida, accordng to USA TODAY.

HOLTBY BAILS OUT CAPS: As Michal Neuvirth was forced out after a period when a piece of metal got lodged in his eye, Braden Holtby was put between the pipes for the Washington Caps on Monday. 

No pressure. Holtby -- who had gone nearly six weeks between NHL starts -- responded with a 21-save performance, not counting his three stops in the shootout as the Caps earned a 2-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning

The Washington Post's Katie Carrera reports that Holtby's saves just as he entered the game set the tone. 

"Right off the bat he comes in and there's a power play," Coach Bruce Boudreau said of Holtby. "I think he has three great chances. [Simone] Gagne had a fabulous chance and when he saved that you knew he was going to be on.”


Boudreau said after the game that it took some time to get the small sliver of metal -- which flew into his eye on a shot by Tampa Bay forward Nate Thompson in the first minute of the game -- out of his eye, but added  Neuvirth would be fine. 

Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who has been playing through a broken thumb, fell on his injured hand and missed the third period. Like Neuvirth, Boudreau said Backstrom should be OK.

PHILLY DOESN'T HAVE IT EASY: The Philadelphia Flyers, losers of four in a row, seem to have the right team coming to town to end their slump. 

But maybe not. 

Sure, the Edmonton Oilers are a point away from being the worst team in the league. But they do enter Tueday's contest against the East's top team 7-3-1  7-3-0 in their last 10 games. 

The Flyers are still suffering through a bout of the flu that has ravaged the locker room. CSNPhilly.com' s Tim Panaccio reports the Flyers coach Peter Laviolette isn't using illness as an excuse, but it's not a bad explanation for Sunday's 7-0 loss to the New York Rangers.  

“If everyone is honest here and look at the [loss] as an isolated game, we had no gas,” Laviolette said during a conference call. “We had no energy. To bring them in again, the mental part of it and physical part, I just didn’t see any good it was going to do.”


The Oilers aren't exactly healthy either. Talor Hall, the first overall pick in last summer's draft, is out for the season with an injured ankle suffered in a fight last week and Ales Hemsky is out at least a few more days with a shoulder injury.

And then their GM was also nearly put in the injured reserve. The Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson reports that Steve Tambellini was hit in the head by a piece of Plexiglas as he stood near the bench during practice on Monday. 

He wasn’t cut, but he took a wallop to his noggin and definitely was shaken up.

“That’s the hardest I’ve been hit in a long while,” said the former NHL center.


MONDAY'S RESULTS
Washington 2, Tampa Bay 1 (SO)
St. Louis 5, Columbus Blue 4 (SO)
Dallas 4, Los Angeles 3 (OT)
CBSSports.com playoff race tracker 

Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: March 7, 2011 10:06 pm
Edited on: March 7, 2011 11:24 pm
 

Capitals lose Neuvirth, Holtby shines in releif

Washington Capitals rookie goalie Michal Neuvirth was knocked from Monday's contest after he absorbed a shot to his mask off the stick of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nate Thompson

Neuvirth, making his sixth consecutive start and the leading candidate for the No. 1 job heading into the playoffs, had his mask knocked off on the shot from 25 feet out. Although the volley came 21 seconds into regulation, Neuvirth didn't leave the game until the first intermission.

Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told The Washington Post's Katie Carrera that a piece of metel from Neuvirth's mask went into his eye, but he'd be OK.  Neuvirth's replacement, Braden Holtby, was more than capable as he stopped all 21 shots and turned away all three shooters in the shootout for a 2-1 victory over the Lightning as the Caps extended thier lead in the Southeast Division.

The Caps were already without Semyon Varlamov for about another week with what it thought to be a knee injury, never a fun injury to come back from when you're a butterfly goalie. 

Washington's injury troubles weren't just limited to goaltending. First-line center Nicklas Backstrom didn't come out for third period. He was playing through a broken thumb, which limited him in the faceoff circle. There was no immediate word on the injury. 

Boudreau told The Washington Post that Backstrom fell on his injured hand and should be fine. 

Coincidentally, Neuvirth and Backstrom are scheduled to visit St. John the Baptist School in Silver Spring, Md., Tuesday afternoon. (Assistant coach Dean Evason and the team's mascot, Slapshot, were also the roster.) The visit was scheduled to inlcude a Q & A and a skills demonstration.



 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com