MONTREAL – Zdeno Chara needn’t be concerned about having handcuffs slapped on him when he returns to Canada in a few days.
Montreal police say its unlikely they’ll even want to speak to the hulking Boston Bruins defenceman when their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Canadiens switches to Montreal on Monday.
Police say the investigation is continuing into the Chara hit last March which sidelined Habs forward Max Pacioretty and sparked a national cry for tougher rules against hockey violence.
“We’re still doing the investigation, but it’s going to be long,” said Sgt. Ian Lafreniere said Thursday.
Lafreniere said Chara doesn’t need to worry about being detained the minute he lands in Canada.
“It’s not the way we’re going to do things. We know who Mr. Chara is and we don’t have to apprehend him at customs.”
Some stories have surfaced out of Boston that Chara might face legal trouble in Canada, while others have indicated the case against the Bruins captain had been thrown out.
Quebec’s director of criminal prosecutions ordered an investigation into the stomach-churning hit by Chara during a game in Montreal on March 8.
Gathering the other elements could take weeks or months, but Lafreniere added there is no rush to complete the file.
“We have to meet different witnesses and those witnesses are hockey players also from the Habs and do you think they’re really available at this time to talk to us?” Lafreniere said.
“When we’re doing an investigation like this, the last person we’re going to meet (literally) is the prime suspect,” Lafreniere said.
Pacioretty expressed his opposition to the idea of prosecution. He is still recovering from a severe concussion and a non-displaced fractured fourth cervical vertebra in his neck.
Experts have weighed in and said it’s unlikely Chara will face any charges. The ultimate decision to file charges lies with the Crown once police have finished their probe.
“At the end we’ll see what the Crown decides,” Lafreniere said.
Chara was not suspended for the hit.