Boston Bruins: Marchand lucky to avoid fine or suspension

Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand is no stranger to the NHL Player Safety office.  He walked away from Saturday’s game without a suspension.  But was he deserving of one?

Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand is quite a unique player in the NHL.  Over the past few years he has developed into one of the best offensive left wingers in the league.  But he also has developed a reputation as one of the best pests in the game.  He’s one of those players that you love when he’s on your team, but hate when he’s on the opponent’s team.

Marchand’s game has led to him being a frequent recipient of supplemental discipline from the NHL Department of Player Safety.  In fact, I’d guess his number is on speed dial for the amount of times he’s been suspended or fined in his career.

Marchand has received 5 suspensions in his career, and 3 fines for his conduct.  If you look up “repeat offender” in the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement, his picture should be there.  It isn’t, but he regularly fits the definition.  His supplemental discipline record is as follows:

Marchand on Tavares

In Saturday’s game with the New York Islanders, center John Tavares laid a fairly routine and solid hit on David Pastrnak.  Later in the play, Marchand came up on Tavares well after he had released the puck and laid a high hit on him.  If you haven’t see the hit, here it is:

The hit was high, definitely in the head area.  It was late, Tavares hadn’t had the puck for some time.  Marchand was assessed a 5 minute major for interference, so the referee felt the “degree of violence” justified the major penalty (see Rule 56.4 of the NHL rule book).  Marchand meets the definition of a “repeat offender” under the CBA, as he has been previously suspended within the prior 18 months.

BUFFALO, NY – DECEMBER 3: Rob Gronkowski

The same week New England Patriots superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski was suspended by the NFL for an extra-curricular hit on an opponent, it seemed to many like Marchand should expect a call.  However, somehow, someway, Marchand avoided any form of supplemental discipline from the NHL Department of Player Safety, the office now run by former NHL enforcer George Parros.

Now, I understand Marchand’s frustration, because he has recently himself become a bit of a target for questionable hits.  But at the same time, that frustration does not justify taking a run at a player and laying a questionable hit.  Marchand has already missed time this season with injuries, and the team is finally starting to play well and develop chemistry.  The last thing the team needs is a 3 or 4 game Marchand absence due to suspension.

I hate to say it, but the play was dangerous, selfish, and Marchand should have been fined or suspended.  I’m a Bruins fan first, but just as important, I’m a fan of the game of hockey.  Marchand’s hit doesn’t belong in the game, especially when the recipient is one of the league’s best players.  I love his intensity, and I love his game, but I can’t justify his hit here.  It’s not the first, and it certainly won’t be the last time.