‘Stand up for your teammate’ is the first unwritten rule you learn in hockey. My friends who have been playing since they could walk have all told me that. It is expected that if someone on the other team lays a cheap shot on one of your own, someone is going to reply with a ‘response worthy’ maneuver.
Last night in the Bruins 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils, we all witnessed one of those ‘response worthy’ situations. 15:11 into the second period, Devils d-man Anton Volchenkov nailed Bruins forward Brad Marchand in the head with a wicked elbow. Marchand attempted to keep going, but quickly crumpled to the ice. He was helped off the ice, and didn’t return to the game. No news has been released on Marchand’s condition.
About an hour ago, Volchenkov was given a four game suspension, aka “Shanabanned” by the Department of Player Safety for that hit. That four game hit to the paycheck will cost Valchenkov around $92,000 dollars(US). Volchenkov claims the hit was not intentional, but was anticipating receiving such a suspension from the DoTS.
So, where was the love (or the hate)? If that hit happened during the Stanley Cup run in 2011, they would have had to take Volchenkov off on a stretcher. Even recently, the Bruins response to that kind of move would have been immediate. On March 3rd, Habs player Alexei Emelin got in a cheap shot on Tyler Seguin. The response was quick and brutal. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara descended upon Emelin and proceeded to beat him into the ice. When the hit on Marchand occurred, the only Bruin to raise their hackles on Volchenkov was Jaromir Jagr. (The Bruin that had been on the team for a whole week.) Social media had a feeding frenzy over the lack of a response by the Black and Gold.
Personally, I think Jagr got it right. Getting shoved a few times by a living legend will make most sane NHL players back down.
There were probably other considerations in the Bruins response. The Bruins just reclaimed the Northeast Division lead back from the Montreal Canadiens. (The first time they have sole possession of the lead in nearly two months.) One of the reasons it took so long for the Black and Gold to get back to first were the points lost in games like that Bruins-Habs game. While we all felt that Chara had to stand up for Seguin and his team, the seventeen minutes in accumulated penalties hurt the team in that 4-3 loss to their old rivals.
Coach Claude Julien had to deal with the media frenzy. Why did the Bruins not respond? How was Julien as a coach going to respond to a possible career changing hit like that? Julien was straight forward. “We’ll deal with this internally. I don’t throw my guys under the bus. There was a situation that happened last night…(that incident looked eerily similar to the hit Matt Cooke put on Marc Savard. You know, the one that ended his NHL career.) would we have[responded/brawled] in the past? I think you would’ve seen that. Is there a reason that didn’t happen?” offered Julien.
Julien chose this moment to fire back at the critics. “You guys [the media]can do what you want, but I’m going to let the negativity, for example you guys saying we’re not hitting enough. My job is to right the ship and make sure we’re ready for the playoffs. The battle is with ourselves to be better, and the battle is to battle against[the media] where you guys find those kinds of things. We’re not going to let that creep into the dressing room.”
If the matter is going to get handled internally, it is a safe bet that it already has skulked its way into the dressing room. I’m a Bruins fan, and I don’t want to see our players get hurt. However, I really don’t want to see the team lose games in the attempt to save face. So Bruins Nation, I say we let the coach take care of business. I’m sure the team will take care of it the next time someone puts a filthy hit on a Bruin.