Well, just when you're ready to fall in love with Brad Marchand, he has to hit another player in the juevos the other night against Tampa Bay. Look, I understand that the 'rat' part of Marchand's game was his ticket into the NHL. And trust me - as a guy who's down at ice level for a lot of pro hockey, cup checks happen more often than you'd think. But I was really hoping Marchand was finally past this... (Happens right at the front of the net at the :07 mark)
(video from Samboke on YouTube)
Today the league announced he'll be suspended for the final two games of the regular season. I have a couple issues with this.
1. This happened in the first period of a tie game the Bruins needed to win. If they lost that game, didn't have the playoffs locked up AND didn't have him available for the last two games and they missed the playoffs for the third straight season? Sorry, that's ALL on Marchand.
2. This is the 8th (8th!) time Marchand has been disciplined by the league in the form of fines or suspensions. We had to know this was coming, strictly on the fact that the league looked at him the way the principal used to look at repeat class-skippers like "...dammit, I'm tired of seeing you in my office." Now he's stuck on 39 goals and won't have the opportunity to hit the 40 plateau. That might backfire on him if/when it comes to contract negotiation time.
3. This isn't going to change him. Clearly, none of the other fines or suspensions have. My biggest problem with Marchand's game is that he doesn't fight. Look at the other guys in the league that would be considered 'rats'....Brandon Prust, Steve Ott, Andrew Shaw, Dustin Brown, Dwight King, Cal Clutterbuck. They ALL fight. When you play on the edge and occasionally step over the line, the most effective discipline in this sport is getting your face beat in. Not fines, suspensions, hearings. It's losing teeth. And for the above-mentioned guys? They'll all drop the gloves. Most of the time, they anticipate dropping them based on the way they play. Marchand has never really had his face revenge-pounded by someone much bigger and angrier than him. That would certainly make him think twice next time.
For those of you who want to take fighting out of the game, look....I get it. Hockey fights are incredibly violent and dangerous. But if there's no fighting, there will be cheap-shot artists roaming the league freely. And since players won't be able to voice frustration with their fists? They'll probably just resort to more whacks in the potatoes.
As far as the Bruins are concerned? This actually works out well. Since they've already clinched, they can rest their best player while providing an opportunity for a younger player to step in and at least see what he's got. This further proves the point that the suspension in the grand scheme of things is nothing.