Chara avoids fine or suspension

191545.jpg

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.

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

Sources: Bruins engaged in trade talks involving Ryan Spooner

This probably won’t come as a complete shock to those watching the way things have played out with him this season, but the Bruins have engaged in discussions with multiple teams about a Ryan Spooner trade, per multiple sources with knowledge of the situation. 

The 23-year-old Spooner was mentioned casually a few months ago as possible fodder in a Jacob Trouba deal with the Winnipeg Jets, but that deal never really materialized prior to the Jets signing their young, frontline D-man to a two-year deal. The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and San Jose Sharks have all expressed interest in Spooner, per one hockey source, as it appears that things simply aren’t going to work out for him in Boston. 

It’s been a challenging year for Spooner with pedestrian numbers of three goals and eight points in 24 games, but there are plenty of mitigating circumstances behind the slow start. Spooner has been pushed into playing left wing for the bulk of the season rather than his natural, preferred center position, and he’s been dropped to the fourth line by Claude Julien over the last few weeks. At times he’s also been pulled from the Bruins power play where he racked up six goals and 17 points working off the half-wall last season.  

Julien talked about the former second round pick in frank terms after this week’s win over the Carolina Hurricanes, which featured a Spooner snipe to the top corner during a successful shootout for the Black and Gold. 

“I think at times that [David Krejci] line goes quiet, other times it’s better. We’ve tried different guys on the left side right now and one [Spooner] might give them speed but doesn’t win as many battles,” said Julien of his search for stability at left wing alongside Krejci and David Backes. “The other way [with Tim Schaller] guys are a little harder right now, and they spend more time in the O-zone. So we’re really trying hard to find the right balance there.”

Trade talks have increased the past few weeks because A) the situation has worsened recently with Spooner’s prolonged stint as a miscast fourth line winger and B) the speedy, skilled forward will most likely be a man without a spot when 22-year-old left winger Frank Vatrano returns sometime around the mid-December range. 

According to one source, the Bruins are asking for a “top six forward” in exchange for a package including Spooner, and it’s a lead pipe certainty they’re looking for some goal-scoring given their 24th ranked offense this season. That represents a bit of an organizational sea change after the Bruins searched low and high for a top-4 defenseman in trade over the summer. The emergence of 20-year-old Brandon Carlo, and the Boston defense’s performance across the board, has lowered the Black and Gold’s priority list need to trade for a D-man. 

The Bruins have scored two goals or fewer in 18 of their 25 games this season and badly need somebody that can put the puck in the net from one of the wing positions. Unfortunately for the Bruins, there aren’t a lot of top-6 forwards readily available that could make an immediate impact. It’s highly doubtful any team is going to fork one over for an asset like Spooner that’s been downgraded due to the way he’s been utilized by the Bruins this season. He hasn't played with the same creativity or confidence this season after posting 13 goals and 49 points as their third line center last season. 

So it remains to be seen what the Bruins will get for Spooner after they offered him and a draft pick to Buffalo for rental forward Chris Stewart a couple of years ago. That was a deal Sabres GM Tim Murray turned down before trading Stewart for considerably less at the trade deadline.

The bottom line: the Bruins are working the phones discussing possible Spooner deals, and it feels like there is some motivation from B’s management to move a player that doesn’t seem like he'll ever be a proper fit in Julien’s system. 

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Sunday Dec. 4: Zacha adjusting to life in the NHL

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while marveling at the Bruins setting a franchise record this season for fewest practices in a regular season. Thanks compacted schedule due to the World Cup!

*Pavel Zacha is adjusting to life as a rookie in the NHL with the New Jersey Devils, and things are getting better as they go along.

*Manitoba Moose players relive their favorite Star Wars moments prior to the team holding their Star Wars Night.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Elliotte Friedman sits down with new Florida Panthers head coach Tom Rowe to discuss the massive changes in that organization with the firing of Gerard Gallant.

*Good for Anders Nilson putting a rainbow decal on the back of his goalie to mask to support some gay friends that have faced public resistance in their lives.

*Bruce Garrioch has his weekly NHL notes with several players, including Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald, potentially on the trade block if anybody wants them.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker has Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson suffering a broken leg that will keep him out 6-8 weeks.

*There was no blood for the Vancouver Canucks fans, but there was still plenty of drama in a win over the Maple Leafs.

*For something completely different: The World Baseball Classic works for everybody except for Major League Baseball, and that would appear to be a problem.