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Murphy: Brad Marchand Will Never Escape His Past

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Boston Bruins

Unfortunately for Boston Bruins captain Brad Marchand and the Bruins, the star winger’s past will always haunt him, no matter how much he’s changed his game.

That sad but indisputable fact has been on full display since Marchand suffered an upper-body injury after he was sucker-punched by Florida Panthers center Sam Bennett in the first period of his team’s 6-2 loss in Game 3 this past Friday. The team continues to term Marchand’s injury as an ‘upper-body injury,’ but it’s hard to believe he didn’t suffer a concussion, and that’s what caused him to miss Game 4 this past Sunday and will keep him out of Game 5 tonight.

 

 

What sadly shouldn’t be hard to believe is that even after this second angle of the play between Bennett and Marchand surfaced on Sunday, the NHL Department of Player Safety still did nothing to address what was clearly a dangerous sucker punch to the head of Marchand. Even worse, they’re simply calling it ‘a hockey play,’ according to ESPN NHL analyst and reporter Emily Kaplan. This was Kaplan on X just prior to the ESPN broadcast of Game 5 between the Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers on Monday night:

“Talked to several people in the league about the Sam Bennett/Brad Marchand play. The NHL also didn’t see the reverse angle until Sunday, but it didn’t change how Player Safety saw it — not as a sucker punch, but as a hockey play with two players engaged.”

 

 

That’s par for the course for a league that, despite multiple ongoing lawsuits for endangering players, continues not to take CTE seriously enough. But it’s also par for the course when it comes to the way the NHL continues to treat Brad Marchand, who has the most suspensions in NHL history with eight. Thanks to his checkered past that has seen the now-35-year-old Boston Bruins captain surrender over $1.4 million in salary thanks to fines and suspensions for a variety of infractions, including licking an opponent, Marchand will apparently always have a bull’s eye for referees on his back, and will never get any sympathy from the refs or the NHL Department of Player Safety.

Marchand hasn’t been suspended since February 2022, according to former NHL referee and ESPN Rules Analyst Dave Jackson; he has become a much more mature and respectful player when it comes to communicating with NHL officials on the ice.

“I had Brad Marchand from the day he came in the league,” former NHL referee and ESPN rules analyst Dave Jackson told Boston Hockey Now. “I gotta tell you something about Brad Marchand: As many headaches as he caused us – I mean, always starting something or whatever – he was always respectful to us. I don’t think I ever had an issue with Brad Marchand. He always had a funny one-liner, and I got along great with him.”

As Brad Marchand has matured into a bonafide NHL sniper and superstar in recent years, he can usually be seen conversing with referees between whistles and sometimes even laughing. What has really made mutual respect grow, though, has been Marchand’s willingness to acknowledge his mistakes.

“It really does because when a player’s crossing over the line, you really don’t want to call a penalty,” Jackson replied when asked how much that helps build a rapport between a player and a referee. “My job is not to call a penalty; my job is to control the game, get in and out of there as seamlessly as possible, and keep the game safe and fair. So when you see a guy that’s crossing the line, and you have a good rapport with him, instead of just going right to the penalty, if you know you can talk to him, you go, ‘Hey! You’re right on the edge, man. You’re running guys just a step too late; your stick’s just an inch too high. …like settle down. I don’t want to give you a penalty’ and if you got a good rapport with the guy, they’ll thank you and move along.”

Apparently, none of that matters to the powers that be in the NHL offices and the Department of Players of Safety, though. If that had been any other player on the receiving end of that Bennett sucker-punch, Bennett would’ve been suspended. Not only did Bennett not get suspended, the league couldn’t even acknowledge that they screwed up by not checking all possible angles of the play in the standard review they do for every single NHL game. Plenty around the NHL are calling this karma, and that may be true, but what’s also true is that Brad Marchand, fairly or not, will never escape his past, and neither will the Boston Bruins.

 

 

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