Haggerty: Ruling on Chara was the right one

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Haggerty: Ruling on Chara was the right one

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

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.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

Bruins will add assistant coach, tap Bradley to run draft board

While the Bruins technically operated, and operated well, short one coach once assistant coach Bruce Cassidy replaced Claude Julien behind the Boston bench, that’s not expected to continue for the upcoming season.

Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed this week that the B’s will be retaining the current assistant coach group of Joe Sacco, Jay Pandolfo and Bob Essensa to work under Cassidy as full-time head coach, and that they’ll be looking to add one more person to his staff.

“I think our staff did a very good job jumping in and picking up, because we didn’t add to it at the time [of Cassidy’s promotion] when we subtracted from the group. It will stay as is,” said Sweeney. “We will also be looking to add to it to complement that group. Bruce and I have already spoken briefly about it, but we haven’t identified yet and we’ve already received some people that would have some interest. We’ll pursue that accordingly.”

Sacco handled the defensemen and the penalty kill in the final few months of the season, and Pandolfo worked with the forwards in his very first season as an NHL assistant coach following a stint in player development. Essensa, of course, worked with the goaltenders and as the “eye in the sky” from the press box once Pandolfo moved to the bench following the coaching change. So the natural assumption would be that the Bruins would hire another former defenseman to work with the D-men given the backgrounds of Sacco and Pandolfo as forwards.

“We haven’t gotten too far out in front of it. But, Joe Sacco moved from the front of the bench to the D, and did a terrific job [while playing a] big part of the penalty kill all year. Jay [Pandolfo] came down from the press box, worked with the forwards, which he had worked with all year. But now he’s in the heat of the battle. They were terrific. We were a true staff,” said Cassidy. “Goalie Bob [Essensa] became a little bit more of an eye in the sky for us up there. We had Kim [Brandvold], who was our skating coach, helped a lot with the practices, with the pace we were trying to establish. I can’t thank them enough.

“Going forward, we’re going to meet and decide what’s the best fit for us [as an assistant hire]. Obviously those two have a forward background, I have a defense background, so maybe that’s an area we have to look at, what’s the best complement. But we’d be getting ahead of ourselves if I said today that we’re pinpointing an exact thing. We’ve got to look at it and say, ‘OK, who’s the best fit. What makes us the most successful?’ We’ll go from there with the candidates we get.”

The situation automatically leads one to wonder if P-Bruins head coach Kevin Dean would be a possible candidate as a longtime Cassidy assistant at the AHL level, or if Dean wants to continue on his track as a head coach. If not Dean then perhaps Providence Bruins assistant coach and former Bruins D-man Jay Leach might also be a strong candidate after his first season working with the young P-Bruins at the AHL level.

While it’s clear the Bruins still have some discussions before potentially making a move on hiring an NHL assistant for Cassidy’s staff, they have made a determination about their scouting staff. The B’s never replaced the head of amateur scouting position when Keith Gretzky was hired as an assistant general manager with the Edmonton Oilers, and it will instead be Bruins assistant GM Scott Bradley that will run Boston’s draft board in June.

“Scotty Bradley has stepped back into that role, which he’s very comfortable doing. He holds the title of Assistant General Manager and he’ll oversee the draft. We’re very comfortable with the people he’s worked with in recent years that have been a big, big part of our recent drafts. Our meetings went well,” said Sweeney. “They were just at the U-18s and had other subsequent meetings, so there will be some banter in the upcoming [scouting] meetings, in terms of where we end up finalizing our list. Scotty will oversee that.”

It’s not exactly foreign territory for Bradley, who previously held the head scouting position with the Black and Gold and played an instrumental role in drafting players like Milan Lucic, Phil Kessel, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. But there’s also some question as to how big a role Gretzky played in drafting the massive wave of talented prospects now pushing their way through Boston’s system, and how much his presence will be missed at NHL Draft weekend moving forward.  

Saturday, April 29: The race for the top pick in NHL Draft

Saturday, April 29: The race for the top pick in NHL Draft

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while tipping my hat to the Celtics after an emotional, impressive showing against the Chicago Bulls in the first round of the playoffs.

*It’s a tight race for the No. 1 overall ranking headed into this summer’s NHL Draft and it also doesn’t necessarily seem like a surefire superstar player right off the bat either.

*The New York Rangers seem to have a little more respect for the “underdog” Ottawa Senators headed into Game 2 of their series.

*Speaking of the Senators, it looks like they may once again have the best player in the series with the dominant Erik Karlsson at the top of his game while presiding over the best-of-seven playoff match.

*The Carolina Hurricanes are rolling the dice that they can sign Scott Darling to be their No. 1 goalie before he gets to unrestricted free agency.

*PHT writer James O’Brien helps break down the method that the Vegas Golden Knights are going to use to build their team, but the bottom line is they don’t want to be boring.

*Milan Lucic is enjoying the ride with the Edmonton Oilers as they’ve taken a 2-0 lead in their series against the Ducks.

*For something completely different: Interesting news about M. Night Shyamalan, who is making a sequel that will tie together two of his hit movies.