Max Pacioretty admits he should have known better, given the horrors he has experienced, but sometimes life on an NHL rink moves faster than one's judgment.
And so it is that the Montreal Canadiens forward will find himself on the phone with league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Monday after a head shot he doled out to Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kristopher Letang this past weekend.
After the game Pacioretty, whose 2010-11 season was abruptly ended by a nasty hit from Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, recognized the irony of the onetime victim now standing accused.
"It's a tough decision for me, it's a tough decision for [Letang]too. He's coming across the middle, unfortunately his head is down, I feel terrible about what happened. I didn't see the replays, so I don't know what the league will think of it," he said of the sequence where he came in from the side and crunched Letang's head with his shoulder late in the third period of Pittsburgh's 4-3 overtime win Saturday. "But if I let him take that shot it could be in the back of our net. … I tried to keep it within the rules."
That Letang quickly recovered – he was back on the ice within 10 minutes – and later scored the winning goal may be a mitigating factor.
So too may Pacioretty apologizing to Letang before overtime.
"I've been down that road, it's a terrible feeling, I know [the Penguins]are probably going to want something to be done," said the 22-year-old Pacioretty, who can expect a suspension if Shanahan concludes the head was targetted intentionally or recklessly and was the principal point of contact.
Letang said after the game that team doctors gave him an oral test to make sure he hadn't suffered a concussion.
"It's just a broken nose," said the Montreal native, who added he appreciated Pacioretty's commiserations. "I told him there was no problem. I haven't seen the replay, but it was a nice gesture on his part."
The game Saturday was eventful on several other levels as well.
Habs goalie Carey Price smashed and hurled his stick and later went on a profane tirade over the winning tally, which came after he appeared to have frozen the puck.
Then there were postgame comments from Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, whose first-period assist in his first Canadian appearance took his points haul to eight in four games since returning from a concussion.
After finding himself painted as a hypocrite for elbowing Ottawa Senators forward Nick Foligno in the head Friday, Crosby shot back.
"I think he's blown it totally out of proportion. Two nights before that, I go in a scrum and I get punched in the head. I accept that. I'm going into a scrum. … That's totally different from putting an elbow in a guy's face coming across the middle. They're totally different circumstances. He's known for being a chippy player and trying to be an agitator and that's what comes with the territory if you're going to play that way," said Crosby, whose reputation for purposeful public blandness made his sortie all the more surprising.