Chara, Pacioretty come to greater level of understanding

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Chara, Pacioretty come to greater level of understanding

LAS VEGAS, NV Zdeno Chara has stated many times that his incident with Max Pacioretty two years was a hockey play, and that it ended unfortunately for the Habs forward as he was wheeled out on a stretcher from the Bell Centre.

More than unfortunate the phrase horribly awry would also apply as it would for the actions of a blood-thirsty Montreal fan base that seemed intent on persecuting Chara after the incident.

But time heals all wounds, and the Bruins Captain was pleased to see Pacioretty named as one of the Masterton Trophy Finalists for Wednesdays NHL Awards ceremony at the Wynn Casino and Resort. Chara was there as a Norris Trophy finalist looking for his second career award, and the presence of both players was difficult to ignore 15 months after one horrendous hit intertwined them.

Hes been playing really well. Hes been a good player for Montreal, said Chara of Pacioretty. He came back really strong and has come back with a lot of confidence and support. Good for him.

Interestingly enough Pacioretty admitted on Wednesday hes come to an even greater level of understanding with the Bs 6-foot-9 defenseman. After their collision ended with the Habs forward smacking head-first into the Bell Centre stanchion, Chara reached out to Pacioretty to express regret over the Montreal grinders injuries.

It was appreciated on one level at the time, though Pacioretty was still understandably upset in the months that followed.

"It's kind of like a bad moment in my life that I want to get over, but I just seem to not be able to do it, said Pacioretty, who recovered courageously from a severe concussion and fracture vertebrae to finish with 33 goals and 65 points for the Canadiens last season. "I have talked to him. Hockey's a fast game and I've made mistakes. He admitted he made a mistake, so obviously there's no grudge from my point of view . . . and on my end."

But Pacioretty has a much better understanding of the sentiment and the difficulty in making that phone call when he similarly apologized to Penguins defenseman Kris Letang this season.

Pacioretty was suspended three games for catching Letang in the head with a very questionable hit, and knew the onus was on him to accept responsibility when he was on the other end.

Its something the few, the unlucky players will experience in their careers full of collisions and near injuries.

Both Chara and Pacioretty now stand on a little bit more equal footing involved in hockey plays that went wrong, and the Bs defenseman accepts its something that can happen in the bruising NHL world.

We havent talked recently, but weve talked on a number of occasions. I think its pretty normal. We all play the game hard and we all want to win, said Chara. We all play tough. Its hockey and thats just the way that it goes, but at the end of the day we dont want to hurt anybody.

We dont want to make another guy go out on crutches or be out of the game. Its just the way it happens a lot of times. In a split-second you do something and you dont even have time to think about it. You just react to it. So its a great gesture for him to reach to Kris. Thats what we do as hockey players. We play hard, but were also humans. We dont want to hurt anybody on purpose.

Perhaps both Chara and Pacioretty will think twice in those split-second actions after being forced to make phone calls to victimized opponents. Thats what having respect for fellow players is all about.

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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