It was an eventful day in Montreal, though little of that had to do with the Lightning coming into town. Ryan Malone skated today to a round of applause from his teammates. This is wonderful news for a player who hasn’t suited up in over a month. Despite the fact that the Lightning seem to have busted through their offensive slump, Malone’s contributions will be a huge sigh of relief for the team, who will be pretty much healthy with their full lineup once Malone returns.
As wonderful news as that was, the real news was going on outside the arena, where Montreal natives gathered to protest the NHL’s lack of action against Zdeno Chara for his hit on Max Pacioretty. Chara hit Pacioretty along the benches and rode him into the beam that holds up the glass, resulting in a concussion and broken neck for Pacioretty.
As has been well-reported, Canadiens fans have taken this particularly hard and have unleashed a lot of backlash on the league. The fact is the hit, while a little late, wasn’t dirty, and would have been just fine if it were anywhere else on the ice. Was it careless and reckless? Of course. Did Chara need to think before he hit him? Yes. Should he have been punished to encourage him to think before he throws his 6’9 body around? Probably.
But protesting it is a little ridiculous, and Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau made the real headlines when he said as much when asked about the situation. He laughed it off and made a very good point: if the fans cared that much, they don’t have to continue buying tickets. He made another great point when he said if Hall Gill did that to David Krejci, they would have defended him.
But of course, the fact the Boudreau was right is drowned out by the anger of the protesters, who acted as though Boudreau attacked them. That, in fact, was the headline of many Canadiens blogs and publications. Caught up in all the hoopla, not a single person denied what Boudreau said. That’s because he’s right.
Of course fans have a right to protest. That doesn’t mean that they are right. And it doesn’t mean that they aren’t simply doing it because a player on the Canadiens was injured. In fact, that is likely the main reason certain sponsors are threatening to pull out of the NHL.
The Caps play the Habs in Bell Centre tonight, their first game there since game 6 of last year’s playoffs. But that won’t be the story. Boudreau was right, but that won’t be the story.
Malone skated today. Let’s be thankful for our own getting healthy and remember to keep perspective and emotions in check. Because as always, outrageous emotion will always be the story.