Many people have had made their feelings known on Zdeno Chara's hit on Max Pacioretty from Tuesday night, but on Wednesday night Pacioretty himself reached out to have his voice heard.
And he's not happy with Chara or the National Hockey League, which opted to not fine or suspend Chara for the hit that left Pacioretty with a concussion and a fractured vertebrae.
In a telephone conversation with myself from his Montreal General Hospital bed, Pacioretty said he was shocked and disappointed Chara was not suspended:
"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of (the hit) to suspend him," Pacioretty told me. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's okay, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt.
"It's been an emotional day. I saw the video for the first time this morning. You see the hit, I've got a fractured vertebrae, I'm in hospital and I thought the league would do something, a little something. I'm not talking a big number, I don't know, one game, two games, three games...whatever, but something to show that it's not right."
Pacioretty said he doesn't remember anything about the incident in the second period of Tuesday's game. His only recollection of it was being loaded onto the stretcher on the ice and wondering what had happened. He said Wednesday was an emotional day for him as it started with him looking closely at the video replay of him slamming into the glass partition between the benches. After that he had an emotional meeting with his Dad Ray and his Mom Anna, who attended Tuesday's game but didn't get a good look at the incident until Wednesday morning. Pacioretty said his dad broke down when they saw each other. Pacioretty said he wanted to speak out because he feels it something that had to be said.
Pacioretty and Chara have had a running on-ice battle since a game in early January when Pacioretty shoved Chara after a game-winning goal in overtime, but Pacioretty does not believe Tuesday's hit had anything to do with that and those bad feelings had in his mind blown over. But that doesn't mean he's happy with Chara either.
"I heard (Chara) said he didn't mean to do it. I felt he did mean to do it. I would feel better if he said he made a mistake and that he was sorry for doing that, I could forgive that, but I guess he's talking about how I jumped up or something."
"I believe he was trying to guide my head into the turnbuckle. We all know where the turnbuckle is. It wasn't a head shot like a lot of head shots we see but I do feel he targeted my head into the turnbuckle."
Pacioretty said doctors have not told him when or if he'll be able to play hockey again, but he's encouraged that symptoms from the concussion have not been very severe so far. He said his neck, with the fractured vertebrae, is quite sore but the treatment of that is on hold until they clear up some other medical issues that require him to be on blood thinners. Pacioretty says he's been greatly encouraged by the support he's receiving from Montreal Canadien fans and has enjoyed interacting with some of them in the hospital.
His comments are likely to continue to reverberate throughout the NHL but Pacioretty says he's fine with that, that he simply wanted his feelings known.
"I am feeling a lot better," Pacioretty added. "My head feels clear, which is good. I haven't got a headache or been nauseous from the concussion. I am much better today than last night. I was starting to look at my life and I wondered if this was really something I wanted to be doing (playing hockey), but there's no question today, once I started to feel better, I was crazy to even think that because I obviously want to play.
"I don't know all the medical terms but they're working on stuff with my artery and they won't release me for awhile. They're thinning my blood and they want to make sure there's no bleeding from the brain and they have to watch for blood clots. I think next week they'll deal with the neck (fractured vertebrae). It's sore right now.
"It means a lot to me to have my parents here with me. My two sisters (one at University of Michigan and one in Connecticut) are going to try to get up too. I am getting a huge lift from the fans in Montreal. I met one guy who gave me a card telling me I'll be OK. That gives me such a big lift. The people in Montreal have been fantastic."