Boston Bruins forward Mark Recchi told a Boston radio station Wednesday that he thought the Montreal Canadiens “embellished” the concussion suffered by Max Pacioretty in an effort to try to get Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara suspended for his hit on the Habs forward.
The NHL did not punish Chara for his March 8 hit on Pacioretty, which left the Canadiens forward hospitalized with what the team called a cracked vertebra in his neck and a severe concussion. That decision caused an uproar in Montreal, where police launched a criminal probe into Chara’s hit.
“He’s OK, and he’s getting better,” Recchi told Boston sports radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub of the reports he’s heard on Pacioretty’s condition. “I mean, we know he was at a movie, I mean, he was Twittering at a movie five days later ... and you know obviously if you have a bad concussion like this, you’re not going to be at a movie. So we’re glad in that sense that he’s getting better, but it was a hockey play, and the injury happened.”
Recchi said he thought the Habs made more of Pacioretty’s head injury -- an area the NHL has been cracking down on this season -- in an effort to get Chara suspended.
“Well, I mean, he does have a fractured vertebra, but the concussion was really a nonfactor. Maybe a day he felt it and then he was fine a couple days later, and I believe, yeah, they were trying to get Zdeno suspended and they embellished it a little bit,” Recchi said. “I guess in terms of that side, you have to look at it, and I guess they were trying to do what they could to get him suspended.”
Recchi also said he thought the recent suspension of Matt Cooke showed that the NHL is serious about cracking down on head shots but argued that if the NHL had felt Chara’s hit was worthy of a suspension, it would have handed one out.
“I think the league sent the message that it was a hockey play, and that’s the important thing, I think, that people have to understand. ... I mean, they just suspended Matt Cooke for up to 17 games for a head shot. They’re serious about protecting the players right now,” Recchi said. “[Chara's hit on Pacioretty] was an interference play at worst, and the partition got in the way.
“I don’t think Zdeno is to blame for that, and obviously the league found that. I mean, I’ve been run into the turnbuckle probably 40 times over my career, and as a winger that’s the risk you take when you go along the boards like that. You’re playing the game and it happens, and what are you going to do? No one intends to hurt anybody, and that’s the bottom line.”