Montreal police open investigation of on-ice hit by Bruins' Chara

The Associated Press
Friday, March 11, 2011; 12:01 AM

BOSTON -- Montreal police started a criminal investigation Thursday into the on-ice hit by Boston's Zdeno Chara that left the Canadiens' Max Pacioretty with a severe concussion and cracked vertebra.

Police said they are acting on a request by Quebec's director of criminal and penal prosecutions, Louis Dionne. After evidence is collected, it will be determined if there are grounds for prosecution, they said.

But Pacioretty said he doesn't want Chara prosecuted.

"I sincerely appreciate all of the support that I have received since my injury," he said in a statement. "I was disappointed that the NHL did not suspend Zdeno Chara. However, I have no desire for him to be prosecuted legally. I feel that the incident, as ugly as it was, was part of a hockey game.

"I understand that this is not my decision. I have respect and admiration for the authorities in Quebec. I simply wanted to make my opinion clear."

Chara said the statement was "a nice gesture. It's something that, for sure, shouldn't go that far."

He also said after the Bruins' 4-3 overtime loss to Buffalo that he will "try to reach out" to Pacioretty and talk with him by telephone or in person "when the time is right." For now, Pacioretty "probably needs time and space" to be around his family, Chara said.

Also Thursday, Air Canada told the NHL it's considering withdrawing its sponsorship unless the league tightens rules to reduce potentially serious injuries. Commissioner Gary Bettman responded that his teams could retaliate by deciding to stop using Air Canada for charter flights, an important source of revenue for the airline.

Chara did not speak at length on the investigation when he talked after the Bruins' morning skate.

"I got some media information on that this morning," he said. "But like I said, right now, I'm focusing on playing my game, and playing hockey."

Chara, who said he had no intent to hurt Pacioretty, was given a major penalty for interference and a game misconduct on the play in Boston's 4-1 loss in Montreal on Tuesday night. The Boston captain has never been suspended in his 13-year career.

The NHL said Wednesday it would not suspend Chara for slamming Pacioretty into a padded stanchion supporting a glass partition. Pacioretty, 22, was released from the hospital Thursday and was resting at home, his agent said.

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