Police in Montreal said Thursday they will investigate a hit in Tuesday night's National Hockey League game as a possible crime, Canadian media report.
The hit by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara on the Montreal Canadiens' Max Pacioretty left Pacioretty with a severe concussion and a fractured vertebra, according to a CTV report.
Chara was given two penalties on the play and ejected from the game. On Wednesday, the NHL said the penalties assessed on the ice were appropriate and it would take no further action.
In the play, Pacioretty skates with the puck in front of the bench area of Montreal's Bell Centre as Chara comes alongside and tries to push Pacioretty into the boards along the benches. Pacioretty's head slams violently into a glass stanchion separating the two benches. Pacioretty was face-down on the ice for several minutes.
NHL Senior Vice President Mike Murphy called the hit "a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface," CTV reported.
Chara said Wednesday he did not try to harm Pacioretty.
‚ÄúObviously I feel bad about what happened. I was trying to make a strong hockey play and play hard. It was just very, very unfortunate that the player got hurt and had to leave the game,‚ÄĚ the Boston Herald quoted him as saying.
"It was just one of those things. These things, like glass extensions, doors, even hockey nets, are part of the game. Obviously, players run into them. It‚Äôs just very, very unfortunate that a player got hurt,‚ÄĚ he said.
The NHL's decision not to further discipline Chara didn't sit well with Canadiens fans. Their calls flooded a police emergency call center in Montreal after the league's announcement Wednesday asking police to take action, the CBC reported.
Pacioretty was also upset with the league.
"I am upset and disgusted that the league didn't think enough of [the hit] to suspend him," he told Bob McKenzie of TSN.com. "I'm not mad for myself, I'm mad because if other players see a hit like that and think it's OK, they won't be suspended, then other players will get hurt like I got hurt."