Boston Bruins: Will Brad Marchand Appeal His Suspension


The Boston Bruins are likely to miss the services of their own ‘Little Ball of Hate’ at the Winter Classic. Bruins forward Brad Marchand was suspended early today by the NHL’s Department of Player Safety. The DoPS believed Marchand’s low hit of Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki was severe enough to warrant a three game suspension.

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The league has a very strong case against Marchand. The league uses Marchand’s hit on Sami Salo (which led to Marchand’s first NHL suspension) as a textbook example of a low hit. If you forgotten what that hit looks like, you can compare the two hits here.

They’re pretty similar. In both cases Marchand goes low and ends up-ending both players. Thankfully, neither player was seriously hurt, and in both cases returned to the game. Later in the game, Borowiecki nearly became permanently attached to Zdeno Chara‘s right hand, but thankfully the Bruins captain refrained from putting the Senators defensemen on the injured reserve roster.

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  • Marchand should have exercised better judgment. He knows he is considered a repeat offender by the rules set up in the NHL/NHLPA’s most recent collective bargaining agreement.  He knows that the league will be watching players like him and are far more likely to come down harder on him.

    Brad Marchand still has one card to play in all this. Marchand could appeal directly to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. The downside to this is that he would have no access to a neutral arbitrator because the suspension isn’t for six or more games. This makes Gary Bettman judge, jury, and executioner. It’s a long shot, but it’s Marchand’s only shot at this stage of the game.

    Now if Brad Marchand files the appeal tomorrow, its possible that Gary Bettman may not rule on it until after the Winter Classic. Before you dismiss this out of hand, look at Gary Bettman. Bettman loves ratings, and Bettman loves dollars (Canadian and American).

    Gary Bettman knows about the ancient rivalry, and he knows that two players exemplify it. Brad Marchand and P.K. Subban. Bettman could table the appeal until after the weekend just to let Marchand play. Bettman knows a good rivalry will bring the viewers, and certainly bring the dollars to the league.

    Both teams will be missing key players in the match-up on Friday. No David Krejci. No Carey Price. No Brendan Gallagher. No David Pastrnak.  Bettman wants to see two healthy squads slug it out on national TV. The last thing Bettman wants are two teams playing with AHL level talent.

    Is it the most ethical solution? Nope, not by a long shot. If I was commissioner, I wouldn’t do it. But if the last few lockouts have taught us anything, they should say Gary Bettman is willing to skirt a few lines in order to get results and resources into the league. He might just let this happen.