While an overwhelming majority of Montreal Canadiens fans are allowing emotion and bias to drive their reaction to the Zdeno Chara-Max Pacioretty incident, at least their hearts are in the right place. They want justice - or their perception of justice - after the NHL declined to suspend Chara for checking Pacioretty headfirst into a glass partition at the Bell Center. There are other forces at work with more self-serving agendas.
Air Canada's letter to the NHL threatening to withdraw sponsorship makes it abundantly clear that the airline is more interested in protecting its precious corporate brand than it is in protecting players, which must make Pacioretty feel all warm and fuzzy. Canadiens owner Geoff Molson jumped on the bandwagon yesterday, pandering to the team's fan base by saying he shares their frustration, disappointment and shock and that he's willing to take a leadership role in improving player safety. That's all well and good, but where was Molson when players on other teams were taking career-threatening head shots? The most suspect development yesterday was the Montreal police force announcing it was opening a criminal investigation into the Chara hit, fewer than 24 hours after police lectured Canadiens fans about abusing 9-1-1 lines reserved for reporting real crimes and emergencies - an about-face that smacks of opportunism further up the law enforcement and political food chains.
Transparent corporate self-interest and cheap political posturing bring nothing of value to an already overheated debate. If anything, they diminish and demean what they claim to represent.