-- Montreal Canadiens
forward Max Pacioretty
suffered a severe concussion and a non-displaced fractured fourth cervical vertebra in his neck after being hit into a glass partition between the benches by Boston Bruins
defenseman Zdeno Chara
, Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said after practice Wednesday.
Reading from a prepared statement, Martin said Pacioretty will be out indefinitely and that the organization's primary concern is his recovery.
Martin could not answer any other questions about Pacioretty's condition aside from saying that a non-displaced vertebra fracture is far better than the alternative.
"The players feel for their teammate," Martin said. "Max is a popular teammate. He is a young player learning the ropes of playing in the National Hockey League and he had some great mentors here."
Aside from the obvious concern for the health of a young man that turned 22 on Nov. 20, the loss of Pacioretty will have major consequences for the Canadiens on the ice.
In his last 20 games, Pacioretty had 11 goals and 6 assists to lead the Canadiens in both goals and points over that span.
"He added another dimension to our team," Martin said. "It wasn't only his speed, but he played a very direct game. He did very good work around the net and in front of the goalie. He was strong on our power play. But it gives an opportunity to someone else in our lineup to seize that chance."
That player appears as though it will be Benoit Pouliot
, who took Pacioretty's spot alongside Scott Gomez
and Brian Gionta
at practice Wednesday.
Gomez recalled the incident from Tuesday night's 4-1 win over Boston where Chara rode Pacioretty's head directly into the padded corner of the glass partition at the Bell Centre and admitted he didn't actually see the hit, but it was still resonating in his mind a day later.
"I just remember the sound it made," Gomez said. "That's the first thing I said to (Gionta), did you hear that? I didn't even see the hit. I heard it. I just remember the sound. It just sounded different."
Martin admitted watching one of his young players lying motionless on the ice for so long was an uncomfortable sight.
"When he's showing no signs of life, it's scary," Martin said. "But what was reassuring was to see the response of our medical staff."
Pacioretty was still in the hospital Wednesday undergoing observation, and Martin said no other details on his condition will be given for the time being. He also went to the trouble to ask the media to respect the privacy of Pacioretty and his family, as both his parents were at the Bell Centre to watch Tuesday night's game and are with him at the hospital.