WILMINGTON, Mass. The Bruins certainly werent shedding any tears about Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty getting served a three-game suspension for his head shot hit on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, but they werent gloating about it either.
Many refused to link Pacioretty hitting Letangs head (and breaking the nose) with the hit Montreals winger took from Zdeno Chara last season. But Bruins coach Claude Julien saw similarities with a different hit involving the Boston team two years ago. He said viewing the hit brought back memories of Matt Cooke throwing a chicken wing elbow at Marc Savards head in Pittsburgh.
It resembled a little bit the hit that Marc Savard took from Matt Cooke a few years ago. It was almost identical, said Julien. It was the leagues decision to make and it certainly doesnt have any links to what happened last year (with Chara). They were two totally different things.
He was on the receiving end of one and on the giving end of another. The league chose to make the rule on that, and thats where it ends.
It didnt look like Paciorettys elbow really came up to Letangs face in the most recent head shot, but he was clearly targeting the Pittsburgh defensemans head as the principal point of contact. New NHL sheriff Brendan Shanahan has come swiftly and unmercifully on players crossing the line in terms of head shots.
Julien understands why Shanahan has come down hard on offending players, and feels like a message is being sent.
The NHL as a group decided to take that stance against head shots and take it a step further, said Julien. To me if you want to send a message across you have to be really harsh and strong on those messages early on. Youre trying to educate players to have a little more restraint and composure when those hits are concerned.
Once players start getting educated and things get better and better, youre going to see less suspensions going on. Thats the only way, in my mind, to do it.