Jake's Take: Violence in the NHL

If you've been paying attention to the hockey world (I would assume you have considering the site) than you know of the unfortunate accident between Zdeno Chara and Max Pacioretty. As an objective fan of hockey and as someone who has played the sport for most of his life, I can tell you one thing I have learned throughout all of my experiences.

Shit happens.

It is a terribly unfortunate accident that Max Pacioretty broke a vertebra and may be out for the rest of the season, let alone his career, however, after watching the video countless times, Chara showed no intention of hitting Pacioretty into the meridian. It was an unfortunate circumstance that is all too familiar in hockey.

Which brings me to my next point.

Violence in the NHL sure has seemed to be getting a lot of attention in the NHL ever since the season hit midway through this year. Now, as some of you know, I am a die-hard Penguins fan. I love the team, the organization and just about everything about them. I’ve grown up with them; my father has grown up with them and as most of you know my brother has grown up with them. So, while I may have a few certain biases to the Penguins, I leave them at the door when I am either on Ice Talk or on this site. I tell you this because of the subject we’re on.

Make the jump for more of my take

There have been three separate incidents in the NHL, which have brought on a major concern for players safety. We’ll start chronologically and begin with the Matt Cooke hit on Marc Savard. Remember, this was BEFORE there was a rule about headshots in the NHL. As per the NHL rulebook from last season, a player is allowed to follow through on an open ice check whether the opposing player is expecting it or not. What Matt Cooke did, while dirty, did not break the rules for that hit. Players have used gaps in the rules before to gain an edge and Matt Cooke did the same thing. While the two incidents are completely different, Cooke’s hit is more akin to Sean Avery waving his stick in the air to distract Martin Brodeur. Clearly the Cooke hit was more severe, but both were legal.

Now, the next example I’m going to talk about is the thuggery of the New York Islanders. I’m sorry if you are an Islanders fan, but I will be blunt about this: what Trevor Gilles did to Eric Tangradi and Cal Clutterbuck is disgraceful and appalling. Often, Pittsburgh fans are criticized for our “double standard” on the violence that occurred during that fateful night against the Islanders because we have Matt Cooke on the roster.


Again, what Matt Cooke did was terrible. BUT IT WAS COMPLETELY LEGAL. There have been plenty of open ice hits before Matt Cooke’s hit and even worse incidents involving players. Anyone remember Todd Bertuzzi ending Steve Moore’s career? Or how about Alex Ovechkin’s knee on knee hit to Sergei Gonchar during the 2009m playoffs?

These plays, as far as I am concerned, were attempting to injure the opposing player more than Matt Cooke.

Back to the Islanders, the thing that really steams me about the game and what happened, was there was no reason. The Pens beat them fair and square, and Brent Johnson KO the ice princess Rick Dipietro. (Yes, I will admit to losing some of my objectivity, but it’s an editorial. Deal with it.) That does not give the Islanders any right to attack, maim and hurt the Penguins, especially when half the team is injured all ready. That’s all I’m going to say about the Islanders because I can’t see straight right now and everything is turning slightly red...

Anyway, back to what happened between Chara and Pacioretty. Yes it is terrible. But Montreal fans need to calm down. You don’t pursue legal action for a hit, which happened under poor circumstances. Chara did not mean to hit Pacioretty into the meridian. He’s not that kind of player. Chara was pinching off Pacioretty’s intended path, and when he finally made contact the meridian was there.

Did Matt Cooke mean to give Savard a severe concussion? No.

Shit Happens.

Did Zdeno Chara mean to break Pacioretty’s neck off the meridian? No.

Shit Happens.

Did Trevor Gilles mean to hurt Eric Tangradi? Yes.

And that’s when Shit Happens doesn’t work anymore. That’s when the NHL should address the violence in the game. And that’s when fans should call the authorities and complain about a mugging that broke out on the ice during a hockey game. But that’s just my take...


  1. great post
    following and $upporting

  2. things happen, if you're in the NHL, your bound to get banged up eventually.

  3. Nobody watches for the hockey. They just want to see a fight.

  4. The more violence the better imo. Here in the UK, they've started getting quite strict with the amount of violence I know that for sure. They started cutting down on it about 3-4 years ago.

    Sucks =[

  5. Hockey is a rough game and not for wimps, I agree with you totally. Sometimes shit happens, when it's truly intentionally is one thing but shit does happen in hockey. It's a rough damn game.

  6. It seems to be a recurring trend in the U.S. to allow ultra-violent movies (take Crank for example) but freak out over actual violence in physical contact sports. It makes no fucking sense.