By The Bell Centre Turnbuckle
As told to Mary Paoletti
I haven't slept for two days.
The pain isn't the problem; I've been hit before. It's the flashbacks I can't handle.
Everything moving so fast... Chara's hulking frame bearing down on Max... Max's head just... I don't know... it was like time stopped when we collided. To me, Max fell to the ice in slow motion. He looked like a dead leaf broken off of a Maple in October, floating down, discarded.
Why the hell do I even exist?
I'm "the only thing that keeps the boys from hurting each other on the bench."That's what they told me when I first got to Montreal. But what now?
A severe concussion. Fractured vertebrae.
Patches wouldn't be hurt if I wasn't there.
Maybe Zdeno Chara did want to put Max over the boards. I was there for that January 8 game and saw their little shoving match. Bruins v. Canadiens is one of the fiercest rivalries in sports and I expect that tempers will flare. But you can't tell me that Chara hoped Max's head would smack into of me
I could change. I want to change.
Padding just isn't enough. I could get a makeover to look like Edmonton.
Things look a little different there, but it doesn't change the game. If anything, it helps. Guys have enough to worry about, flying around out there on the ice at 35-40 mph, without having me in the way. If guys want to break each other's faces on the bench, fine, that's a choice. But broken vertebrae? Nobody chose that outcome.
And the thing that really kills me? This has happened before.
Remember Ryan Smyth? I know everybody in Colorado, and when he got checked into the home turnbuckle by Jack Johnson, my buddy was distraught. He went through the same identity crisis that I'm dealing with. I tried to reach out on Tuesday night after the Bruins game, but he never responded. He totally shut down after Smyth got hurt.
That was two years ago.
I don't want to be like that. I don't want to hurt anybody else.
Nobody from either side is happy about what happened to Patches, because if the physicality of the game changes then we all lose. Wasting resources on a police investigation into Chara's hit is ridiculous. The guilty party is here; it's me. I'm coming forward and I want to get involved in the NHL's new initiatives to make the game we love safer for the guys who play it.
That's something we can all agree on, right?