There are some hits that are blatantly illegal and dirty, but then there are some that walk a strange, vague line. Even the angriest Montreal Canadiens fan should be willing to give Zdeno Chara this much: it was an incredibly unfortunate moment that did indeed expose a design flaw in a handful of NHL arenas.
Benefit of the doubt aside, the league’s handling of the situation wasn’t exactly a boon for public relations. It’s a real shame that hockey only tends to make mainstream news when something bad happens rather than when Alex Ovechkin scores an amazing goal, but for the most part, that’s the sad truth.
So it’s in this climate that we’ve seen Max Pacioretty’s head hit that stanchion over and over again, like the latest puck-related version of the Zapruder film. While the PHT staff seemed unanimously in favor of some kind of suspension for Chara, it only seemed right to take the temperature of everyday hockey fans. With that in mind, we asked how the NHL should have handled the situation. Check out the poll results below.
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The best way to break down the results is into two categories: pro-suspension and anti-suspension. The biggest winner was a significant suspension (seven games or more) with about 33.5 percent. Overall, about 71.5 percent of readers thought Chara deserved some kind of suspension.
That being said, it’s not like the NHL’s decision was without its supporters. More than a thousand (1,116) of the 4,577 people who voted said that the league made the right call.
So the consensus is that Chara deserved a suspension, with most wanting a pretty hefty one. Still, with that many votes – the most of any poll in PHT’s year of existence – it’s clear that the hit is subject of serious debate.
The NHL wants to take an educational approach — not a punitive one — to deter its players from using illicit drugs like cocaine.
“My interest is not to go around punishing people,” Bettman told Sportsnet today.
“My interest is getting players to understand the consequences of doing something that could jeopardize this great, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that they’ve been given, to play in the NHL.”
While some players have expressed surprise at hearing that cocaine use is growing, the anecdotal evidence of substance abuse has been very much in the news, from Jarret Stoll‘s arrest to Mike Richards’ arrest to, more recently, Zack Kassian‘s placement in the NHL/NHLPA’s treatment program.
“We don’t have the unilateral right to do things here. We need the consent of the Players’ Association,” Bettman said. “It’s not about punishment. It’s about making sure we get it to stop.”
Related: Cocaine in the NHL: A concern, but not a crisis?
News and notes from around the crease…
Jones goes for San Jose
Martin Jones, acquired by the Sharks this summer, will make his first regular-season start for the club tonight against his old team — the Los Angeles Kings.
Jones, 25, spent the last two years in L.A. as Jonathan Quick‘s understudy. He was flipped to Boston at the NHL Entry Draft, then shipped to San Jose. Sharks GM Doug Wilson wasted little time locking Jones in — signing him to a three-year, $9 million extension — and Jones wasted little time locking up the No. 1 gig, putting together a stellar preseason.
For the Kings, Quick will get the start in goal.
Markstrom out for Vancouver
Jacob Markstrom wasn’t scheduled to start for the Canucks tonight — No. 1 Ryan Miller is getting the call — but the Swedish ‘tender won’t even dress when his club takes on the Flames in Calgary.
Markstrom suffered a lower-body injury at practice this week and is being held out of tonight’s action. In his place, the Canucks called up AHL netminder Richard Bachman, who’ll serve as Miller’s backup.
For the Flames, Karri Ramo is the opening-night starter.
Habs at Leafs: Carey Price vs. Jonathan Bernier
Rangers at ‘Hawks: Henrik Lundqvist vs. Corey Crawford