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Marchand: NHL ‘Softest League In World’ If Panarin Chirps Go Too Far

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Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand has heard the complaints around the NHL, mostly on social media, that he’s “xenophobic” or “insensitive” because he chirped New York Rangers star Artemi Panarin about his unpopularity back home in Russia after his anti-Putin comments.

The comments spurred Panarin to fire one of his gloves at Marchand on the Boston Bruins bench in the waning moments of last Friday’s matinee loss to the Blueshirts, and clearly had Rangers players very worked up after the game. It was to the point the Rangers reportedly complained to the NHL and some of their beat writers went so far as to request that any sound from hot ESPN mics be reviewed to hear the exact Marchand comments that appear to have hurt Panarin’s feelings.

Both of those things sound ridiculous on their face, but not one when one considers the very sensitive feelings of the New York Rangers these days.

This coupled with the Blueshirts’ infantile reaction to Tom Wilson giving Panarin a street brawl beatdown on the ice last season really makes one wonder who exactly is making these decisions that continue to embarrass a once-proud Original-6 franchise.

Added insult to injured feelings, Marchand essentially called the Rangers “soft” for an overreaction to him telling Panarin simply that “nobody likes you back home.” Clearly it hit a nerve as high-profile Russians criticizing the Putin regime back home can make life very difficult for a player like Panarin, who had to take time off last season as a result.

Honestly on the Marchand scale of chirps, though, that’s probably on the tame side considering what he once said about Patrick Sharp’s kids.

“I said that no one in Russia likes him. So if that is now what is setting guys over the edge, then this is the softest league in the world and nobody should be allowed to say anything,” said Marchand. “Because there’s a lot worse things said out there than that. If that’s what he’s crying about, then it is what is is.”

As far as the actual three-game suspension for slewfooting Oliver Ekman-Larsson from Sunday night’s game, Marchand admitted that his extensive rap sheet with the NHL Department of Player Safety factored into things. While PK Subban has been guilty of several slew-foot incidents that ended up in injuries for players, the New Jersey Devils defenseman earned a simple fine for his transgressions.

But for Marchand, who has previously been suspended for a slew-foot and for other dangerous tripping infractions, the past was brought into play even though he’s avoided getting in trouble for the last four seasons.

“I have tried extremely hard over the last four years to get away from the reputation I’ve had, I think I’ve done an extremely good job at that,” said Marchand following Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena while he serves out his three-game suspension. “I know early on I crossed over the line a lot of times, and it’s unfortunate that it continues to haunt me. It’s 310-plus games, almost four years of good, hard — I mean, I play hard, there’s no question, and I compete.

“But I am no longer the player I was the player that I was, and that I felt like I had to be in order to establish myself. So, I was hoping at this point that they would’ve seen past what’s gone on before that. I feel like I’ve completely transformed myself from the player I was to a player that should be respect in this league for his abilities. But again, I understand completely the history that I have, and I was just hoping that they would’ve seen past that, and obviously that wasn’t the case.”

Perhaps someday Marchand will be dealing with a clean slate and get the same kind of consideration from the NHL r Safety Department that others around the league receive, but this week was clearly not when it was going to happen.

 

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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[…] Boston: First, Brad Marchand revealed what he said to Artemi Panarin that made Panarin throw his glove across the benches at Marchand. And Marchand ripped the league over criticism. […]

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