Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a fractured vertebrae on Tuesday, according to Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin.
"Max Pacioretty has a severe concussion, as well as a fracture of the fourth cervical vertebrae, but it's not displaced," Martin said. "Max will remain at the hospital for further observation. There will be no other prognosis for the time being, but he will obviously be out indefinitely. The most important thing for our organization right now is Max's recovery. We will continue following recommendations from the doctors and of course, Max and his immediate family would appreciate privacy in this matter."
Pacioretty was injured late in the second period of Montreal's 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins Tuesday when Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara ran him into the turnbuckle that frames the glass partition between the players' benches.
The 22-year-old rookie, who had four points in his last four games, was trying to get past Chara on the play when he was hit hard and went head-first into the glass partition between the benches.
Pacioretty lay motionless for several minutes with his eyes closed before being taken from the ice on a stretcher.
"What I remember about it was the sound - it sounded like a gun: bang!" said Pacioretty's linemate Scott Gomez. "Stuff like that is tough to look at."
"It makes your guts hurt," goalie Carey Price echoed. "I can't imagine being a parent, watching your kid get hit like that."
"For all hockey parents who have kids in the sport, I think we all kind of had the same feeling, and for them you can only imagine that they were very scared," said defenceman P.K. Subban.
Chara had a Noon et conference call with NHL vice-president of hockey operations Mike Murphy, but did not receive a suspension or fine from the league.
"I conducted a hearing with Boston Bruins' defenseman Zdeno Chara with respect to the major penalty for interference and game misconduct that he was assessed at 19:44 of the second period for a hit on Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens," Murphy issued in a statement.
"After a thorough review of the video I can find no basis to impose supplemental discipline. This hit resulted from a play that evolved and then happened very quickly -- with both players skating in the same direction and with Chara attempting to angle his opponent into the boards. I could not find any evidence to suggest that, beyond this being a correct call for interference, that Chara targeted the head of his opponent, left his feet or delivered the check in any other manner that could be deemed to be dangerous."
"This was a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface. In reviewing this play, I also took into consideration that Chara has not been involved in a supplemental discipline incident during his 13-year NHL career."
Pacioretty had 14 goals and 10 assists in 37 games with the Habs since being called up from AHL Hamilton in early December.