MONTREAL – Here is a series of developments Thursday in the controversy over Boston Bruin Zdeno Chara’s injury-causing hit on the Montreal Canadiens’ Max Pacioretty:
—Quebec’s director of criminal and penal prosecutions requests a police investigation into Chara. Montreal police announce they have opened a criminal investigation.
—Air Canada confirms it sent a letter to the NHL threating to withdraw its sponsorship unless the league imposes sanctions to reduce injuries.
—Other league sponsors—including Tim Hortons, which has seen its celebrity spokesman Sidney Crosby sidelined by a concussion—follow with less confrontational statements.
—Prime Minister Stephen Harper says he is concerned about the growing number of major injuries in the NHL and urges the league to take a “serious look” at the situation, for its own sake.
—Chara speaks to reporters in Boston following his team’s pre-game skate: “You feel bad when a fellow player gets severely hurt,” he says. “I know, deep down, I did not do it intentionally.”
—NHL commissioner Gary Bettman defends league’s decision to not suspend Chara. After attending a conference in Washington, he tells reporters that he supports the decision. Bettman also brushes aside Air Canada’s financial threat, suggesting the league can find other sponsors if the airline leaves.
—Habs chairman Geoff Molson issues a public letter expressing his, “frustration, disappointment and shock” over the issue—and says Bettman has agreed to make safety a priority issue at next week’s league meetings.
—National Hockey League Players’Association says issues involving the boards and glass in NHL arenas have been a “longstanding focus” for the players. NHLPA says it will inspect the rink in Montreal, “and elsewhere as needed, to make sure the appropriate padding is in place.”
—Pacioretty is released from hospital, two days after being admitted with a severe concussion and a broken vertebra.