Montreal Canadiens fans to turn out in force against NHL inaction on Chara

MONTREAL – Montreal Canadiens fans are hitting back at the National Hockey League after it gave a pass to a Boston Bruins player who put a Hab in the hospital.

More than 1,600 Habs fans are expected outside the Bell Centre today for a peaceful protest of the NHL’s handling of the incident that left Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty unconscious on the ice last week.

The protest is being spurred by a Facebook page whose organizers say they’re tired of hockey violence.

The league decided not to penalize Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, who got a game misconduct from a referee after hurling Pacioretty into a stanchion during an on-ice incident last week.

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Chara has said he didn’t intend to injure Pacioretty, who suffered a concussion and fractured vertebra.

He has since been released from hospital.

Montreal police are investigating the incident and the NHL’s decision has drawn widespread criticism ranging from fans to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, who is attending a meeting of league general managers in Florida, says he stands by his decision.