Home NHL News Air Canada Threatens to Pull Sponsorship Over Chara Ruling, Bettman Responds

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Air Canada Threatens to Pull Sponsorship Over Chara Ruling, Bettman Responds PDF Print E-mail
NHL News
Written by Matthew Coller   
Thursday, 10 March 2011 03:20

*This story was updated 3/10/11*


NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has responded to Air Canada's threat that they would pull sponsorship if Boston Bruins' defenseman Zdeno Chara was not punished for a hit which took place Tuesday against Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. The Globe and Mail reports Bettman said: “Air Canada is a great brand as is the National Hockey League and if they decide that they need to do other things with their sponsorship dollars, that’s their prerogative,” when asked if he took the threat seriously.


Bettman said people around the NHL have commended the league for the way they handled the Chara hit.


Slam Sports enitially reported that one of the NHL's largest financial corporate backers sent a letter to the NHL demanding “immediate” and “serious” action against Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara for his hit on Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. Air Canada, who owns naming rights to Toronto's Air Canada Centre and sponsors other Canadian teams, wrote the commissioner's office after the NHL elected not to punish Chara.

 

"We are contacting you (Wednesday) to voice our concern over (Tuesday night's) incident involving Max Pacioretty and Zdeno Chara at the Bell Centre in Montreal," wrote Air Canada's director of communications Denis Vandal. "This is following several other incidents involving career-threatening and life-threatening headshots in the NHL recently."

 

"From a corporate social responsibility standpoint, it is becoming increasingly difficult to associate our brand with sports events which could lead to serious and irresponsible accidents; action must be taken by the NHL before we are encountered with a fatality.

"Unless the NHL takes immediate action with serious suspension to the players in question to curtail these life-threatening injuries, Air Canada will withdraw its sponsorship of hockey."

Air Canada reportedly sent his letter to all six Canadian NHL governors. Vandal continued: "While we support countless sports, arts and community events, we are having difficulty rationalizing our sponsorship of hockey unless the NHL takes responsibily to protect both the players and the integrity of the game."

 

NHL VP Mike Murphy ruled that Chara's hit had “no basis to impose supplemental discipline.”


While some have suggested Air Canada is simply looking for good publicity, the NHL still has a problem on their hands. The head office has faced criticism for the arbitrary nature of nearly every suspension or fine this season. Many players and personnel have expressed confusion about what hits warrant suspension or fine.


It is extremely unlikely Air Canada would pull sponsorship due to one ruling, but the message should be enough for the NHL office to make an effort to clarify its rulings.


Matthew Coller is a staff member of the Business of Sports Network, and is a freelance writer. He can be followed on Twitter

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Comments (14)Add Comment
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written by jay, March 09, 2011
way to go, air canada. this leadership is much appreciated. please consider pulling sponsorship until the league's manner of disciplining its players reflects the growing public concern that something truly terrible is happening to our national game.
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written by Russell McNeil, March 10, 2011
Air Canada must follow through with this and I believe will. Matthew Coller's comments noting that it would be "extremely unlikely Air Canada would pull sponsorship due to one ruling," and that the company could be looking for "good publicity," are inane. Air Canada is a major Canadian corporation. It is not engaging in name calling here. NHL Hockey's reputation in the world has been severely soiled by recent events. Where the hell is this writer coming from. He seems not only not to understand when a serious business threat has been announced, he also seems not to understand just how serious this brutality in hockey has become. Crosby's career might be over. Max Pacioretty was spared death and it is possible he too may never play again. These are dark days for hockey - think Coller, think!
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written by shawn, March 10, 2011
What a joke. Canadians
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written by shawn, March 10, 2011
Maybe if the bell center knew how to properly pad or protect that area, he wouldn't have gotten hurt. They should be the ones to blame.
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written by Federko, March 10, 2011
Canadians are such cry-baby a-holes. Oh wait, it's YOUR game. I forgot.
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written by Sergio, March 10, 2011
Where was Air Canada's outrage prior to a Montreal player getting hurt? Maybe I missed it but did they chime in when Mike Green got hit? Have they said anything about Matt Cooke?

Have to wonder if they'd have this position had someone besides a Montreal player been hurt.
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written by Noble, March 10, 2011
It's obvious that Chara was not out to injure the guy. Perhaps if the turnbuckle had been padded he wouldn't have even been hurt. It's an unfortunate event, but nothing else. Further more I hope that the NHL has enough integrity not to be bullied into irrational action by the words of a sponsor.
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written by onice108, March 10, 2011
Pacioretty is another in a long line of Montreal "Divers" who is 6'2" but plays like he's 5'8". I have no sympathy for him or any of the other frauds that the team chooses to dress nowadays. Jean Belivue would have picked himself up and been ready for his next shift.
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written by Jeff Higgs, March 10, 2011
onice108, you're probably one of those morons that would tell a young kid to "suck it up" and play through a concussion. Fortunately most coaches - even at the amateur level - aren't as stupid as you.
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written by Angry, March 10, 2011
Hats off to Air Canada ... I hope they stand firm against the arrogance that the NHL is already showing them. Clearly the hockey world is filled with ignorant people like onice108 and the like ... suggesting that a player is faking broken vertabrae and concussion. Seriously !! this is the anarchy that NHL has created ... people have lost their ability to think clearly.
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written by onice108, March 10, 2011
Here's a prediction...Pacioretty makes a "remarkable" recovery and is back on the ice within a week or two. 'Cuz thats the "Canandien Way"....right? Then goes on to join the Canadian olympic dive team where he wins the gold.
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written by whitenebula, March 10, 2011
Dear Air Canada,

You are ridiculous. The injury is horrible, but it was not due to Chara's intent to injure a player. Demanding disciplinary action against Chara for a design flaw in the rink is beyond inappropriate, and I am offended that you are blindly attempting to get yourself some good PR off of this at the expense of Chara. It would be more appropriate for you to demand that the NHL take action to make the game safer... not to criminally punish someone for an unfortunate incident. I don't think thicker padding is the answer. I think they should give up that seat in the corner and make that edge a smooth, rounded area with a generous radius to prevent these types of injuries. "Unless the NHL takes immediate action with serious suspension to the players in question to curtail these life-threatening injuries..." I repeat, that is not the answer. Change the rink... change the rules... Neither of those are absurd requests.
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written by balticseaviking, March 10, 2011
I can't believe what is going on in the game of hockey now. Yoou get hit and you whine,"hey ref, ref, look tht guy hit me give 'em a penalty suspend him boo hoo, boohoo, Making millions of dollars a year, playing a game, entails some chance of being hit, hurt, injured. What a bunch of wusses, none of these players wold have been able to play in the 60's and 70's when hockey was a sport that the players knew would include danger. Hell Gordie Howe was making 50,000 a year in 1967 and only got a raise because Bosotn signed Bobby Orr for either 68 or 86 thousand. Jeez what a bunch of whiners, sissies and wusses. Air Canada you are a joke trying to pull your coperate muscle on this one, of coourse it happened to a Montreal player. Hypocrites
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written by Charles, March 11, 2011
Cry-baby or not, the game is getting way too dangerous. It has shifed from a family sport to a freak show. Maybe there's some overreactions, but things have already gone too far. And the league is way too arrogant.
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