Originally written on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 11/29/11

CHICAGO - OCTOBER 30: Max Pacioretty #67 of the Montreal Canadiens skates the puck through the neutral zone on the offensive rush away from Patrick Kane #88 of the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on October 30, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Canadiens 3-2. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

By Alexander Monaghan

On Saturday, Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty delivered a nasty blindside to the face, or notably the nose, of Pittsburgh Penguins d-man Kris Letang. The hit, which was one of the most discussed plays of the weekend, earned the top-line left wing a three-game suspension.

Before we move forward, here’s Brendan Shanahan to explain exactly why Max will sit out this entire calendar week.

Shanahan explains that Pacioretty delivered an illegal hit to the head of Letang. Despite the danger Letang put himself in by skating through the middle of the ice, Shanahan opines that no player should have their head become the principle contact of a hit. The onus was on Pacioretty to not make the hit to the head.

In addition, Pacioretty had the time to re-position himself in order to not hit Letang directly in the head. Shanahan would call his failure to make that adjustment ‘reckless’.

After the hit, Pacioretty sounded apologetic for his blunder. “I’m sorry for what happened and I’m glad he’s okay,” Pacioretty explained. Assorted members of the Penguins would comment on the hit but at the end of the day, they won. Despite Letang being day-to-day due to the hit, there is not as much ill will between the players as perhaps there was between the starting goalies.

They earned a hard-fought victory and the last thing they needed is more concussion talk or emphasis away from anything but winning games. Sidney Crosby wouldn’t really even go there. However, in Montreal the discussion carries on.

Pacioretty gets three games while Ryan Malone was not suspended for his hit which has kept Chris Campoli out of nearly every regular season game. That same argument could then be carried over to the infamous Zdeno Chara hit, which garnered no suspension under Colin Campbell even though it was not a head shot.

Putting aside our vitriol over blown calls, the bigger question is: Why wasn’t Pacioretty more careful?

He obviously knows how a hit of that stature can knock a hockey player out for significant periods of time and therefore his hit was beyond reckless, it was irresponsible. Jimmy Murphy of ESPN Boston, via Twitter, went so far as to call Pacioretty a hypocrite for making a hit he preached against for most of last season.

Hypocrite may be a bit too far in this case. The guy suffered an unfortunate injury which would not happen in 99 of 100 attempts. Furthermore, he said something remotely stupid wise age of 23. At 23, were you an all-knowing and diplomatic individual? Moreover, do you have a pressure-filled job in which your every move was scrutinized and examined? Probably not.

Remember, at the ripe age of 18 he likened himself to Jed Ortmeyer on live television (for those keeping score at home he already has more career goals than Ortmeyer).

Pacioretty is a professional athlete playing in arguably the capitol of professional hockey. And while he may be the savior of a fledgling offense and a shot machine, he’s far from perfect and still growing into himself as a player. Reckless, irresponsible even stupid, yes. Hypocrite he is not.

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