All it took was simply taking a hockey matter out of the judicial system.
On Thursday, Quebec officials finally closed the criminal investigation into Zdeno Chara‘s hit on Montreal forward Max Pacioretty in a game at the Bell Centre back on March 8. No charges will be filed against the Bruins captain.
“After carefully examining all the information provided in this affair, the is not reasonably convinced it could establish evidence of guilt,” the provincial prosecutors’ office said in a report from the Canadian Press.
Maybe that’s because there’s no crime to be guilty of in this incident. No matter what the hysterical 911 callers in Montreal may have thought, this was simply a hockey play gone horribly wrong.
Chara drove Pacioretty into a stanchion between the benches, leaving the Canadiens forward with a broken vertebra and a concussion and ending his season. Pacioretty has returned this year and has 9-7-16 totals through 19 games.
While a case could have been argued for a suspension, the need to involve the law was a ridiculous overreaction and waste of police resources.
After Thursday’s 2-1 shootout victory over Columbus, Chara was understated but appreciative of the news that the case was officially closed.
“It’s good news,” Chara said. “Good news.”
Chara said awaiting the outcome of the investigation hadn’t been weighing on him throughout the eight-month process.
“No, it wasn’t,” Chara said. “It was somewhere in the back of my mind, but it wasn’t like I was thinking about it every day. It was just something that I was waiting on to hear about, and finally that day came so it’s good news.”
That sentiment was echoed by his teammates.
“If it was bugging him he’s never said anything or brought it up,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said. “So I don’t think it’s been on his mind.
“We’re really good friends and we talked about it when it happened, but I don’t think it’s been weighing on his mind,” Ference added. “We all thought it was pretty silly for them to go through that process, but they did. So c’est la vie.”
The Bruins officially closed the door on the topic as well with a statement released during the game by team president Cam Neely.
“The Bruins organization respects the process that the Quebec prosecutors office undertook regarding Zdeno Chara and we are satisfied with their announcement today,” Neely said in the release. “We now consider this matter closed and the organization will have no further comment.”
It took eight months longer than it should have, but the Chara affair is finally, and mercifully, over.