The NHL could lose a key sponsor if it doesn’t immediately act on violent headshots during games, Canadian news agency QMI is reporting.
The report comes in the wake of a controversial hit that sent Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty to hospital with a severe concussion Tuesday night.
According to QMI, Air Canada — one of the league’s biggest corporate backers — is threatening to pull its support if action isn’t taken to prevent what it calls recent career- and life-threatening headshots during games.
Denis Vandal, the airline’s director of marketing/communication, wrote a “strongly worded letter” addressed to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, saying “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.”
“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.”
Vandal wrote that the airline is “very concerned with the state of hockey today,” and is having difficulty rationalizing its sponsorship “unless the NHL takes responsibility to protect both the players and the integrity of the game,” according to QMI.
On Wednesday, NHL senior vice-president Mike Murphy said Chara will face no further league discipline for the hit on Pacioretty, which he called “a hockey play that resulted in an injury because of the player colliding with the stanchion and then the ice surface.”
Chara was given a penalty for interference and a game misconduct, but Murphy said a review of video of the hit revealed there “was no basis for supplemental discipline.”
As of Wednesday, Pacioretty was in hospital for observation with a severe concussion and fractured fourth cervical vertebra.
The incident was the latest in a season that has had many talking about head hits and injuries, including the concussion that has sidelined Sidney Crosby since the January 1st Winter Classic.
With files from Canadian Press
UPDATE - Follow up Article - March 10th
Air Canada threat to pull NHL sponsorship could open floodgates
Edited by sixer, 11 March 2011 - 07:21 AM.