WASHINGTON, D.C. – During a Congressional Hockey Caucus briefing on Capitol Hill on Thursday, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman responded to a media question about the reports of a letter sent to the League from Air Canada asking for "immediate" and "serious" actions on head hits. The letter, first reported by the Ottawa Sun and the QMI Agency, allegedly was prompted by Tuesday's hit on Montreal's Max Pacioretty by Boston captain Zdeno Chara.
"Actually, the letter came before any decision or discipline was meted out," said Bettman. "I have responded to the letter from Air Canada. Our Hockey Operations people are extraordinarily comfortable with the decision that they made. It was a horrific injury and we're sorry it happened in our fast-paced, physical game, but I don't think whether or not supplemental discipline was imposed would have changed what happened."
Bettman said he has heard from a number of executives at NHL clubs and the feedback "almost to a person" has confirmed the right decision was made to not fine or suspend Chara.
"Air Canada is a great brand, as is the National Hockey League," said Bettman. "And if they decide that they need to do other things with their sponsorship dollars, that is their prerogative, just that it is the prerogative of our clubs that fly on Air Canada to make other arrangements if they don't think Air Canada is not giving them the appropriate level of service."
He is, in my opinion, one of the best defensemen in the NHL and continuing to grow. I think his game, from an offensive standpoint, he continues to drive our offense... I think there's still tremendous upside for Oliver.
— Coyotes GM Don Maloney on defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson