At the end of the day, both common sense and courage won out for the NHL in the case of the entire province of Quebec against Zdeno Chara.
The citizens of Montreal spent an entire day clogging up their local emergency phone lines breathlessly calling the police for requests to arrest the Bruins defenseman after his jarring collision with Max Pacioretty that left the young Canadiens forward with a cracked bone in his neck and a severe concussion.
Air Canada has threatened to pull its advertising with the NHL over the irresponsible way the league has treated head shots and serious on-ice incidents leading to injury, and even Canadian Parliament got into it with a scathing criticism of the NHL.
Paciorettys injury and subsequent anti-NHL rant to TSNs Bob McKenzie less than 24 hours after the hellish head-first impact with the Bell Centre stanchion had much of Canada whipped up into a state of frenzy.
But theres a couple of important points that need to be mixed in with the grandstanding and political football nature that the hit and subsequent NHL ruling have brought on and its important to make them before the angry mobs of Montreal decide to storm Boston with pitchforks and torches ready to go looking for Chara, the NHLs version of Frankensteins Monster.
The problem with all of this hue, cry and fist-shaking anger directed toward the intimidating, towering Chara?
He didnt actually do anything patently wrong within the NHL rules other than interfering with Pacioretty as Pacioretty attempted to pass Chara in the most dangerous area of the ice: by the turnbuckle between benches.
Chara certainly should have known where he was on the ice, but by the same token Pacioretty should have also been aware of his location when he attempted to squeeze between the Bruins defenseman and the bench area.
With that in mind, Chara served his five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct and then relied on a 13-year career thats featured exactly one league suspension for an instigator penalty while playing for the Ottawa Senators.
NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Ops Mike Murphy came down with a ruling on Wednesday afternoon that there would be no further discipline for Chara, and there was really nothing to penalize the big defenseman for. It was interference in a difficult part of the ice on a fast-paced play, and Pacioretty became a victim of the speed and violence combo at the heart of NHL hockey.
Murphys statement put every corner of the argument to bed: "I conducted a hearing with Boston Bruins' defenseman Zdeno Chara with respect to the major penalty for interference and game misconduct that he was assessed at 19:44 of the second period for a hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens.
After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline. 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. 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.
This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface. In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career.
The one problem with the NHL finding no further issues with the Chara hit: an incensed Canadiens team is likely to take matters into their own hands on March 24 at TD Garden, and that could involve many Bs players being at risk for retribution.
Skaters like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin would do well to tread lightly in that final regular season game against the Habs in Boston a contest that could well be Les Habitants looking for revenge in a war of attrition rather than a scoreboard battle.