After the dust settled following Zdeno Chara's thunderous hit on Connecticut native Max Pacioretty during Tuesday night's Bruins-Canadiens game, the news is bad.
But not as bad as most feared.
Pacioretty, who is in his third year in the NHL, was driven head-first by Chara into the "turnbuckle," the portion of the plexiglass boards that comes to a corner between the team benches, and laid motionless on the ice for minutes before team medical staff was able to turn him onto his back and carry him off the ice on a stretcher.
Pacioretty was reported to have sensation in and the ability to move all his limbs in the ambulance, and was conscious and responsive while en route to the hospital, and it's been reported this morning that the diagnosis for his injury is that he sustained a concussion (presumably a major one), injured neck and possibly a fractured spine.
It's safe to say that the Montreal forward - who has developed a bit of history with Chara over the past few months - won't be returning to the ice this season, no matter how long the Canadiens last into the playoffs.
Chara, who was given a five-minute major for interference and a game misconduct for the hit, has a meeting scheduled with League assistant disciplinarian Mike Murphy for noon today. It's likely that the Bruins' captain may receive a small suspension/lifetime ban from the NHL as the League continues to crack down on hits that cause head injuries, whether they're to the head or not.
It's the second time in three games involving the Bruins that the turnbuckle has come into play, as Milan Lucic used it to his advantage in checking a Tampa Bay player towards the end of the second period of last Thursday's home game against the Lightning. The results there were far less injurious, but still scary.
Regardless of what decision the NHL hands down over the hit, the fact is that they need to address the turnbuckle situation, too - something as simple as padding covering the corners or as extreme as a bench re-design could go a long way to prevent injuries on otherwise routine plays in the future.