MONTREAL - Montreal police have launched an official investigation into Tuesday night's violent hit on Habs forward Max Pacioretty.
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In a release issued early Thursday, Quebec's Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions (DCPP) confirmed it had advised the ministry of Public Security that it was recommending an investigation.
It didn't take long for officials to respond. Montreal police issued a brief statement a few hours later confiming they had been asked by the ministry to begin looking into the hit and its aftermath.
The investigation will begin immediately, said Montreal police Constable Olivier Lapointe. Police made no further comment.
The check by Boston Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara, witnessed by thousands of fans in the Bell Centre and thousands more on television, knocked the 22-year-old Pacioretty unconscious, fractured his fourth cervical vertebra and resulted in a severe concussion. He remained in hospital Thursday morning.
The DCPP and the police department had both been reluctant to comment on the incident following the National Hockey League's decision not to suspend Chara late Wednesday.
There is precedent for criminal charges being laid in connection with traumatic injuries sustained on the ice in Quebec. Last October, former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League forward Patrice Cormier pleaded guilty to a charge of assault causing bodily harm and received an unconditional discharge after delivering a vicious hit to the head of Quebec Remparts defenceman Mikael Tam. Tam suffered brain trauma and damage to his teeth.
It was the same sentence handed down to son of former Montreal Canadiens goaltender Patrick Roy, Jonathan Roy, who pleaded guilty to an assault charge in 2009 after pounding rival goalie Bobby Nadeau during a hockey brawl in March 2008.
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