Habs’ Pacioretty, NHL’s Shanahan dispute what was said at hearing

MONTREAL – Max Pacioretty and NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan clearly do not agree on what was said during the hearing into the Montreal Canadiens forward’s three-game suspension for a hit on Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang.

Pacioretty insisted Monday that Shanahan compared the hit to the one Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke put on Marc Savard, which left the Boston centre with a severe concussion. Shanahan has denied comparing the two incidents.

“We didn’t bring it up, (Shanahan) brought it up,” said Pacioretty. “You can ask my agent (Alec Schall). He was on the phone. Ask the GM (Pierre Gauthier). It happened.”

Pacioretty has finished serving a three-game suspension for the hit and will return to the Canadiens lineup for a game Tuesday night against Columbus.

The Montreal winger cut into the middle of the ice to put a big, high hit on Letang during a game last week in Pittsburgh. Letang suffered a broken nose and was left dazed by the blow and has not played since.

Two seasons ago, Savard was flattened by Cooke’s blindside shot to the head.

“In the back of my mind it’s a completely different hit,” Pacioretty said. “Savard’s a lefty coming across. He has no idea Cooke’s coming from the other side of the ice.

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“I’m not trying to get into comparisons, but they (the NHL) compared it to that and we compared it to (Tampa Bay’s Ryan) Malone on (Montreal’s Chris) Campoli. Every hit’s different. That’s what makes this tough. There is always going to be that grey area. They’re doing the best they can to crack down, but it’s not consistent.”

Pacioretty said Letang saw him coming and had time to protect himself, and that there should not have been a suspension.

Shanahan said on Montreal station TSN Radio 990 last week that while he mentioned that the Cooke hit was part of what moved the NHL to crack down on headshots, he specifically told Pacioretty and the Canadiens he did not compare his hit to Cooke’s.

He said Pacioretty may have been in an emotional state at the time and “wasn’t intentionally lying” about the Cooke comparison.

“I said very clearly, I am not comparing it to Cooke-Savard,” he said.