After a phone hearing yesterday afternoon, Brendan Shanahan gave Brad Marchand a 5-game suspension for attempting to take out Sami Salo’s knees in Saturday night’s game. Here is his explanation:
Credit to Shanahan: he sent a strong message that these kinds of hits, ones that are predatory in nature and seriously injures another player, have no place in the NHL.
Of course, not everyone sees it that way. While almost everyone associated with the game of hockey applauded the suspension, people in Boston are still insistent that it was legal and that Marchand was protecting himself from big, bad Sami.
On the Bruins’ official website, GM Peter Chiarelli posted a statement:
While we respect the process that the Department of Player Safety took to reach their decision regarding Brad’s hit on Sami Salo, we are very disappointed by their ruling.
“While we understand that the Department of Safety is an evolving entity, it is frustrating that there are clear comparable situations that have not been penalized or sanctioned in the past.
“It is equally disappointing that Brad sought the counsel of the Department this past Fall for an explanation and clarification regarding this type of scenario so as to adjust his game if necessary. He was advised that such an incident was not sanctionable if he was protecting his own safety. Given our feeling that Brad was indeed protecting himself and certainly did not clip the player as he contacted the player nowhere near the knee or quadricep, today’s ruling is not consistent with what the Department of Player Safety communicated to Brad.”
But also, Marchand himself voiced his displeasure, writing on ESPN what he thinks of the officials and their ruling:
OK, the play with Sami Salo. It technically wasn’t a clip. Clipping is when you hit someone at the knees and I did not hit him at the knees. Anyone that has seen the video will see that I hit him in the upper thigh under the buttocks. They can call it a clipping, but they obviously don’t know the rules of hockey. (Emphasis mine.)
Pretty strong words. But wait, there’s more. In the same entry, he tells us what he thinks of Canucks coach Alain Vigneault:
Their coach [Alain Vigneault] came out and said I play to hurt players. He obviously wanted to take a shot at me and stir the pot for the hearing [Monday]. It just shows the class he has or lack thereof.
Because, you know, going after and criticizing the league and another team’s coach shows nothing but pure class.
Listen, I know Marchand is entitled to his own opinion, but in this case, I think it’s probably best he keeps them to himself. One, practically everyone in the hockey world agrees with the suspension and he just keeps looking like an ass by defending it. Two, remember that John Tortorella got fined just a couple of weeks ago for criticizing the officials after the Winter Classic. The CBA between the NHL and NHLPA also has a section dedicated to this sort of thing. The suspension is already going to cost Marchand more than $150,000 in forfeited salary; he should probably just choose to learn from this incident and save himself the fine – and some face – too.