At the halfway point of the NHL season, bruising Boston Bruins defenseman Zedeno Chara might have already provided fans the fight and punch of the year. Just over four minutes into the third period of Boston’s 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, a confrontation between Chara and Lightning center Cedric Paquette got a little heated after the referee initially blew the play dead to charge the Czech with a roughing penalty.
Puffing up and chipping at Chara with his stick, Paquette unwisely got right in Chara’s face as if he wanted to pick a fight. At 6-foot-9 and 255 pounds, Chara quickly squashed any notion of a prolonged, drag-out brawl, and clocked Paquette with one straight jab to the face.
Paquette went down and stayed there for a while, clutching his face. Chara immediately skated straight to the penalty box. The punch made the rounds on ESPN's "SportsCenter" and has become a much-discussed topic on hockey forums.
It was a bruising night of hockey. There were 13 penalties in the third period, with nearly all of them called for rough play. Brad Marchand received 10 minutes for misconduct.
Meanwhile, Chara was called for four penalties in the game, all in the third period and three total for socking Paquette and the initial boarding penalty that caused the very brief tussle. Paquette went to the penalty box three times in the third period, all for roughing calls.
Only in his second-year and clearly trying to stand up for his team against the behemoth Chara, the inexperienced Paquette was perhaps blinded to Chara’s reputation as an unstoppable force on the ice by team loyalty. Paquette is listed at 6'1, and 198 pounds, while Chara is arguably the most imposing player in hockey.
Paquette will probably think better next time.