Chara avoids fine or suspension

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Chara avoids fine or suspension

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON -- Zdeno Chara avoided further punishment for his hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty when the National Hockey League decided Wednesday not to issue a fine or suspension to the Bruins' captain.

Chara had a hearing with the NHL at mid-day on Wednesday, prior to the team's practice at Ristuccia Arena. Chara participated in the workout.

On Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced fractured of the fourth cervical vertebrae after being checked by Chara and hitting his head on the "turnbuckle" that separates the two benches at center ice.

Prior to the ruling, the Bruins defended their captain.

"Knowing Chara as I know, there was no intent to injure aplayer on that play," said coach Claude Julien. "As I mentioned Tuesday night, the location ofthe injury is what caused the damage, and that's the unfortunate partof that . . .

"The one thing that everybody here hopes, is that the human side of us wishes for Pacioretty to recover quickly and well," said Julien. "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."

Julien said Chara has always been a clean player, and that sometimes his physicality can look worse than it actually is because of his size.

"When you're 6-foot-9, and you're probably one of the strongest guys in the league, you can't go out there and not utilize that to your advantage," said Julien. "So he plays hard, but at the same time, he plays clean. It's already a challenge, for a guy like him, at 6-foot-9, to keep his elbows down. Because the minute he lifts them up a little bit, it's hitting guys in the head. So he's made a really good adjustment, in regards to that.

"It's always easy to criticize. It's always easy to attack a guy. But if you take time to look at the situation, if you take time to see what he has to go through, there's always going to be a challenge for him."

None of the Bruins thought it was a dirty hit, saying that had it occured anywhere but the area between the benches, Pacioretty wouldn't have been hurt.

"It's not like he was trying to hurt the guy," said defenseman Johnny Boychuk. "It really wasn't his intention to hurt the guy, and make sure he didn't get up. He's not that type of player. It was just a weird spot that he got put into."

"If it happens anywhere away from the bench, where there's plexiglass, it just rubs Pacioretty out and there's absolutely nothing happening there . . . except at worst . . . two minutes for interference," said Julien. "That's it. That's all."

"I was trying to make a strong hockey play, and play hard," said Chara, who hadn't had a chance to reach out to Pacioretty -- but plans to -- as of Wednesday afternoon. "It's very unfortunate, like I said, that the player got hurt and had to leave the game. Obviously, it is in my mind."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

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Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

It’s only a coincidence that it will air the same week that the Boston Bruins went Hollywood with their annual three-game road trip through California, but David Backes and his wife Kelly are going to get some solid TV time this weekend. The animal-loving couple are going to be featured Saturday night in the all-new Animal Planet special "Stars to the Rescue," which highlights the Backes family’s excellent work to ensure every animal has a ‘furever’ home.

The lifelong animal lovers have adopted five rescue pets that all made the move from St. Louis to Boston this summer, and launched Athletes for Animals in 2013, a non-profit organization supporting professional athletes and animal advocacy efforts. The 32-year-old Backes chose a Boston animal shelter as his first setting to meet with the Boston media this summer after signing with the Bruins in free agency, and spoke glowingly about his inspiration for marrying two of his passions: helping animals and sports.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," said Backes, the proud owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty and Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly). "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said, ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

The “Stars to the Rescue” special premieres on Saturday night at 8 pm on Animal Planet where there will be a full segment on the Backes family, but here’s a clip where Backes talks about his well-publicized involvement with a number of stray dog rescues during his 2014 Olympic Hockey stint with Team USA in Sochi, Russia.

Backes isn’t the only Boston athlete featured during the Animal Planet special as it also chronicles the stories of other well-known athletes and celebrities and the dogs they can't live without: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Baltimore Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley, Selma Blair, ESPN Correspondent Michelle Beadle, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and more. From training buddies to comforting companions, “Stars to the Rescue” shows first-hand how these celebrities first met their cute rescued canines and how their dogs have impacted and transformed their lives for the better.

What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track

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What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track

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