The NHL has decided to uphold the six-game suspension for Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand for punching and poking his stick at Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry in an incident that took place last week.
Brad Marchand was given a match penalty after lashing out at Penguins netminder Tristan Jarry in the Bruins’ 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh.
Marchand’s actions will be automatically subject to review.
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Marchand has already served four games of his six-game suspension and is due to return for the Feb. 24 road game against the Seattle Kraken but sat in for a three-plus hour hearing with the NHL on Wednesday in New York City to appeal the NHL Department of Player Safety’s decision with NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.
At this point, the hope had to have been to get a game or two shaved off the initial suspension given the relative harmlessness of the incident. It was a sentiment shared by Marchand’s longtime linemate Patrice Bergeron, who spoke on his behalf earlier in the week. But Bettman took two days to render an appeal decision on the Marchand matter and released a brief on Friday night that upheld the NHL’s original decision to suspend No. 63 for six games.
“In reaching my conclusions I have given careful consideration to Mr. Marchand’s testimony concerning his efforts to control his emotions in order to excel as an impact player who plays aggressively, but within the rules. I believe that he has already made significant strides towards achieving this goal. Unfortunately, however, Mr. Marchand’s behavior and lack of judgment in respect of these incidents did not meet acceptable NHL standards,” wrote Bettman in a lengthy opinion on the matter. “He created a distraction which reflected poorly on himself, on his team and on the League as a whole, and as such, I find he also deserves the penalty he received. Having said that, I encourage Mr. Marchand to reflect on this experience and to use it positively in furtherance of his efforts to refine and improve his on-ice image and game for everyone’s benefit.”
Bettman stressed in the decision that Marchand’s record eight suspensions and four fines from the NHL over his career factored greatly into the heavy sentence that came down on the Boston Bruins forward.
It was interesting to note that the incident was attributed to Jarry yelling “How about that [expletive] save?” with 25 seconds remaining in the third period of a game the Penguins were winning by a 4-2 score. There was no mention of Jarry slashing Charlie Coyle earlier in the same shift or any other factors leading up to the Marchand explosion, which he admitted that “my emotions got the best of me and I made a poor decision.”
So now the Bruins will have to push through a couple more games without their best all-around player after dropping an ugly 4-1 game to the New York Islanders on Thursday night and facing a motivated Avalanche team at home on Monday following this weekend’s road finale against the Ottawa Senators. The Boston Bruins have scored a grand total of four goals in the four games without Marchand thus far while posting a 1-2-1 record amidst the suspension, and an injury to Patrice Bergeron that the captain just returned from on Thursday night.
Marchand can still appeal to an independent arbitrator, but it’s difficult to see that all getting done ahead of Monday afternoon when his six-game suspension will have run its course.