Okay, so I am still kind of putting together everything I feel about Brad Marchand‘s five-game suspension for the incident with Sami Salo on Saturday. I’m hoping that writing it all out here will really help me puzzle through all of this. I’m also going to be as level-headed as possible, but I feel a deep sense of injustice here and as such it might be a little hard for me to do.
First of all, I think this new era of suspensions and such is becoming more and more inconsistent. Other teams’ fans have felt wronged by recent decisions (Blues and Blackhawks fans especially) and I guess now it’s Bruins fans’ turn to feel the same. We really need to study how much a prior record works into a player’s future suspensions, for example. Marchand does has a record: a two-game suspension in the spring (pre-Shanahan era; actually the Colin Campbell era) for elbowing and then a fine this season for slew-footing. But did they really think a lot about the prior record, or did they just say “He’s a bad boy, he needs to have the book thrown at him”?
Second, the hit really seems like instincts gone wrong. Marchand is on the record as saying he had no ill will on the play but was really just trying to protect himself from what he saw as a threat of injury. Who among us hasn’t done something like that, reacted to a situation on pure human instinct, without really thinking, and sometimes created a bad outcome because of it? What happened was truly unfortunate. However, Marchand wasn’t thinking “I’m going to take him out!” (He does feel bad about the five-minute major, but feels it was the right punishment, because it led to Vancouver scoring twice. Taking responsibility for your actions: very mature!)
Third, it’s obvious that Vancouver was campaigning hard in the court of public opinion to get Marchand punished harshly. Their brass, consisting of GM Mike Gillis and head coach Alain Vigneault, made sure to go on the record saying that Marchand’s a dirty player throwing a dirty hit and Vigneault even added a strangely-worded suggestion that someone, you know, might get tired of Marchand and hurt him (nice biased subheader there, The Province). Jeez, is Vigneault a mob boss threatening to have someone “taken care of” or something? That’s kind of a weird suggestion to make.
Meanwhile, Boston’s brass (GM Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien) tried to be a little more rational, calling the Vancouver bosses’ comments distasteful and propaganda meant to demonize Marchand. But then Vigneault has his own prior record of behaving this way in front of the press. (Also, I really, truly hate to hear someone say they have a concussion and immediately think “They’re embellishing it to try and get the Bruin punished,” but you know what? That’s exactly what Ryan Miller did. They were very quick to say that he had a concussion, Milan Lucic got his punishment and later he backpedaled and said he just had whiplash. So yes, perhaps I am the cynical villager and I just heard a boy cry wolf. Am I so wrong to think this way considering how it went down before now?)
Finally, Chiarelli himself has said that he sees inconsistencies in punishments and suspensions. He even added that Marchand tried to ask the folks in charge to clarify scenarios like these so he could try to adjust his game. At the time, Marchand was told that, if something like that happened because he was defending himself, it wouldn’t be punishable. Since he was punished, Chiarelli smells a fish. I don’t blame him at all. I do too.
So, we’re out our honey badger until we go back to New Jersey and see the Devils again. I’m upset, but trying to remain positive. However, I still think there’s some foul play going on here. I know that my talking about it can’t change official policy single-handedly. I say we talk about it anyway.
PS: Can’t really say “Bruins never get punished because of Daddy Campbell” anymore, huh?