Sedin, Thornton blast NHL for Chara decision

NHL stars Henrik Sedin and Joe Thornton are upset that Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara avoided a suspension for riding Montreal's Max Pacioretty into the stanchion, the metal support holding up the glass.

Max Pacioretty has at least a couple of National Hockey League stars in his corner.

For a few minutes Thursday, Vancouver's Henrik Sedin and San Jose's Joe Thornton played the part of outspoken retired players Jeremy Roenick and Chris Chelios when discussing the league's decision not to discipline Boston defenceman Zdeno Chara, who rode Pacioretty into the boards Tuesday night.

Pacioretty sustained a broken vertebra and serious concussion when his head slammed into the metal support holding up the glass, knocking him out as he fell to the ice at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Chara was assessed a five-minute major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.

"It's just something with Boston; it seems like they have a horseshoe," Thornton said before his hometown Sharks faced off against Sedin and the Canucks. "There's just something about Boston and the disciplinary [decisions] are on their side.

"I'm not sure why that is or anything."

Thornton, who broke into the NHL with the Bruins in the 1997-98 season, noted Boston forward Milan Lucic avoided disciplinary action two games before the Pacioretty incident following his blindside cross-check to the head of Tampa Bay's Dominic Moore.

"It's just really bizarre," said Thornton.

Players up to speed

Sedin and Thornton agreed all NHL players are aware of the location of the stanchions, or partitions, in each rink.

Mike Murphy, the assistant to NHL disciplinarian Colin Campbell, ruled on the Pacioretty hit and pointed out the stanchion was responsible for the Canadiens forward's injuries, not Chara driving Pacioretty towards the partition.

"After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline," Murphy said in a statement.

"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."

Pacioretty on Thursday was released from a Montreal hospital.

"I sincerely appreciate all of the support that I have received since my injury," he said in a statement. "I was disappointed that the NHL did not suspend Zdeno Chara. However, I have no desire for him to prosecuted legally. I feel that the incident, as ugly as it was, was part of a hockey game.

"I understand that this is not my decision. I have respect and admiration for the authorities in Quebec. I simply wanted to make my opinion clear."

Before his call with the NHL, Chara spoke about the hit.

'Very, very unfortunate'

"It's just one of those things," he told the Bruins website. "Like glass extensions, doors, even hockey nets are part of the game and obviously players run into them. It's just very, very unfortunate that a player got hurt."

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reinforced the league's decision, saying Thursday there's no need to "over-legislate" head hits.

Speaking at an appearance at a U.S. congressional panel, Bettman suggested the rise in reported concussions is due to accidental events and collisions, not head hits.

"Our hockey operations people are extraordinarily comfortable with the decision that they made," he said.

So, the goalpost is to blame if one player runs another into it?

"What are you going to do the next time Trevor Gillies comes down and runs a guy into the thing? You can't give him anything."

Gillies is the New York Islanders tough guy currently serving a 10-game suspension for delivering a hit to the head of Minnesota Wild forward Cal Clutterbuck. Last month, Gillies sat out nine contests after knocking Pittsburgh's Eric Tangradi in the head.

"You tell [everyone] Chara has no history [of illegal hits], so the next time he does it he still has no history because he didn't get suspended [for hitting Pacioretty]. I don't see the reasoning behind it," the usually-reserved Sedin said. "Give him at least something to show that's not acceptable."

Choosing not to suspend Chara reflects worse on the NHL than the hit against Pacioretty, says Thornton.

"If you say that you don't know where things are around the ice, I think you're not telling the truth," Sedin added.

With files from The Canadian Press