MONTREAL — Boston’s Zdeno Chara will face no further league discipline for the hit that hospitalized Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty.
NHL senior vice-president Mike Murphy called the Chara hit “a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface.”
“After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline,” Murphy said in a statement Wednesday. “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, 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.”
Montreal Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier offered no comment about the NHL’s ruling.
“The NHL made it’s decision and it’s not for us to express our opinion publicly,” he said in a statement.
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said Pacioretty has a severe concussion and fractured the fourth cervical vertebra, which is not displaced.
“He remains under observation in hospital. There is no other prognosis at this time,” Martin said after practice Wednesday.
Chara was given a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct.
Murphy, who had a telephone hearing with the Bruins captain Wednesday, said he took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career.
The frightening footage is the latest ugly image in a season that has been dominated by talk of head hits and concussions, with the league’s biggest star Sidney Crosby among those sidelined.
Pacioretty was wheeled off the ice with 15.8 seconds left in the second period of the Canadiens’ 4-1 victory Tuesday night, silencing a capacity crowd at the Bell Centre.
Martin said his player “obviously will be out indefinitely.”
“The most important thing for our organization right now is Max’s recovery. We will continue following recommendations from the doctors and of course, Max and his immediate family would appreciate privacy in this matter,” he added in a statement on the Canadiens’ website.
The 22-year-old had chipped the puck past Chara and was skating quickly when the six-foot-nine Bruins defenceman rode him hard into the boards near the Boston bench at the Bell Centre.
Pacioretty’s head slammed into the glass partition between the benches. He lay motionless on the ice for several minutes before he was taken to hospital, where he spent the night.
“What I remember about it was the sound — it sounded like a gun: bang!” said Pacioretty’s linemate Scott Gomez. “Stuff like that is tough to look at.”
Murphy hears cases involving Boston in place of league disciplinarian Colin Campbell, whose son, Gregory, plays for the Bruins.
Meanwhile, the federal minister responsible for sport called the hit “unacceptable.”
Speaking prior to the announcement of the league decision on the play, Minister of State for Sport Gary Lunn said he hoped the NHL took it seriously.