By Danny Picard
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.