Sunday, 19 February 2012

Zdeno Chara injured, shaken, stitched up. Montreal fans cheer.

The Kevin Paul Dupont article which bemoans the Habs fans cheering when Zdeno Chara took a puck to the chin and went down misses a crucial step in the equation. It’s not so much that they were cheering a Bruin player down, or an opponent injured, they were jeering one of the great villains in town

Zdeno Chara has to deal with some of the consequences of his actions. He held a grudge for Max Pacioretty’s shove in the back after a game-winning goal, one on which he again looked ungainly and inept on skates. He was embarrassed about his performance on that goal, was angry at Max for an admittedly stupid push when the game was over, and he filed it away for future reference. When he had a chance, he made Max pay by riding him hard into the boards/stanchion, an illegal play as Max wasn’t carrying the puck. I’ll allow that he didn’t intend to almost kill him, but he did want to hurt him and make him pay.

When the injury was revealed to be much greater than anything he actually wanted, he pretended that he didn’t know it was Max he was shoving into the boards, and that he didn’t know the stanchion was there, that he wasn’t aware where he was on the ice. These were all transparent lies that he had to spew to mollify the NHL’s discipline czar and hopefully soften the consequences, but it damaged his reputation as a spirited, tough but fair competitor. He is now seen as a craven cheap shot artist.

When he got away clean, benefiting from a ridiculous decision by the father of his teammate and a former player who was a no-talent scrub, it robbed him of an opportunity to expiate his crime and then come back having been suitably punished and entitled to a clean slate.

So when this player takes one on the chin at the very scene of the crime, let’s not pretend that 21000 fans are going to be Ghandis and Dalai Lamas about this, they’re not going to see this as an unhappy, unrelated accident. Our society is relatively irreligious these days, and popular culture has filled a vacuum with a pervasive sense that karma happens. Villains in movies get two in the head from Die Hard. Bernie Madoff goes to jail and his family is penniless. And, Zdeno Chara takes one on the chin, and hopefully has a concussion that keeps him out the rest of the season, fingers crossed.

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