Zdeno Chara is the kind of player you don’t miss on the ice.
However, on Thursday night, the Boston Bruins captain may have put himself in Brendan Shanahan‘s crosshairs. Late in the first period of a 2-1 win over the San Jose Sharks, Chara took Tommy Wingels out with a high hit, and Wingels didn’t return afterward.
For a point of reference, the Chara hit on Wingels is posted below.
Later in the game, Chara cross-checked Sharks rookie Tomas Hertl in the face in front of the Bruins net. Chara wasn’t penalized on either play, but should Brendan Shanahan call him? Let’s take an objective look.
On one hand, Chara’s hit on Wingels comes a night after his Bruins teammate, Loui Eriksson, was taken out by a targeted shot from Buffalo Sabres enforcer John Scott. Counting Scott’s indefinite suspension ahead of his in-person hearing, eight players have been suspended for illegal hits this season. It’s been a hot topic to start the season, and the NHL has been trying to get illegal hits out of the game. If you add the cross-check on Hertl to the Wingels hit, you have two incidents where Chara could have easily been penalized for a high hit.
However, the NHL has been accused of having double-standards in terms of handing out suspensions to star players and/or members of the Boston Bruins dating back to the Colin Campbell era, even though he recused himself from Bruins discipline as his son, Gregory Campbell, still plays for them. Chara is a star player for the Bruins, so if Shanahan elects not to suspend Chara, we could be in for the perfect storm of bias accusations and a lack of accountability.
Don’t Suspend Him
On the other hand, Chara is 6’9″, so he may have trouble getting down to get shoulder-to-shoulder with a player like Wingels, who is nine inches shorter. To dissuade any John Scott defenders, Chara was finishing a check on Wingels instead of coming across the ice for a blindside as Scott did to Eriksson. It also wasn’t a hit from behind like those delivered by Maxim Lapierre and Cody McLeod in earning their respective suspensions.
I’d agree that the forearm across the face isn’t the greatest visual to have, but Chara’s height may again play a role here. If the same hit is delivered by the 6’5″ Dustin Byfuglien, it’s likely a shoulder-to-shoulder hit instead of having the forearm coming up. However, it’s hard to say whether body positioning will be a factor in the decision.
As for the cross-check to Hertl, I’d say Chara should have received a two-minute minor for it and nothing more. The Wingels hit is the more concerning of the two plays, so I’m more interested to see if anything comes from it.
The most compelling comment came from Sharks head coach Todd McLellan in his post-game press conference, where he said he didn’t have a good view of the hit. Quotes are from CSN Bay Area’s Kevin Kurz.
“You know what, every time somebody is hit now we quickly run to the video and we analyze – was it legal, was it illegal? It’s a hard game, and it’s played by hard players that have to get involved physically night in and night out. They have to take some lumps, too. We have to give some lumps, we have to take some lumps. If it’s dirty, I think it should be severely dealt with. If it’s hard hockey, then so be it.”
McLellan brings up a good point, so we’ll see if the NHL thinks the hit was dirty.
Chara won’t get the book thrown at him for the Wingels hit, but should he be at least subject to something? Answer the poll, post in the comments section below, voice your thoughts on Facebook, Tweet Too Many Men on the Site @TMMotS, or Tweet me directly @gecarragher.