So Brad Marchand has once again been sent to the principal’s office and once again he’s shuffling his feet and looking down at the ground and promising to be better next time. And it wouldn’t be one bit of a surprise if once he left the Boston Bruins’ dressing room after their locker cleanout today, he skipped down the halls of the TD Bank Arena, laughing at the league and everyone else, knowing he got away with his miscreant behavior…again.
It has been well documented that the league put Marchand on double-secret probation – an Animal House reference…look it up, kids – after he deposited his saliva on Ryan Callahan’s sweaty and bearded face in Round 2 of the playoffs. The NHL, no doubt wagging its finger at Marchand for the 105th time during his career, then sent out a release saying it had, “put the player on notice that his actions are unacceptable and similar behavior in the future will be dealt with by way of supplemental discipline.”
Clearly, the league has adopted the famous 1-2-3 Magic style of child discipline here. The only problem is Marchand is on the 1-2-3 Bite Me program.
So when the Bruins cleaned out their lockers after losing to the Lightning in Round 2, Marchand said all the right things, as he always does. He talked about how he has to “cut that (expletive) out,” going forward. Pretty soon, Marchand is going to have enough material to put out a Greatest Hits of Contrition box set. That’s because he says the same thing every time he gets himself into hot water. He talks about how he put his team and organization in a bad spot and how he has to change his ways. Then he goes out and does the same thing all over again.
So why should we believe Brad Marchand this time? Well, clearly we should not. Like Lucy van Pelt, Marchand simply cannot just allow Charlie Brown to kick the ball. He has to pull it away every single time and at some point it becomes more about the subject who keeps getting fooled and less about him. Marchand’s history suggests that he has absolutely no intention of changing anything and the worst thing is he’s being enabled by a league that either tacitly approves of what he does because of the attention it brings or it doesn’t have the courage to make him sit for a long, long time and think about his actions. Take your pick.
It’s important to note that the most recent licking incident when it came to Marchand has nothing to do with the Department of Player Safety. They actually don’t deal with this kind of garbage. Totally separate department. This warning actually came down from the NHL’s hockey operations department. But whether it’s hockey operations or DOPS, Marchand knows he has allies in the highest positions of power in the NHL and that’s why he continues to do these things. None of this will change until the league takes this player seriously and hands him a minimum 20-game suspension for his next heinous on-ice crime – and you know it’s coming – for the good of both the league and the player.
Because right now, Marchand is laughing at the NHL. He’s making a fool of the best league in the world and he knows it. That was no more evident than late in the season when Marchand, who already had six suspensions and four fines on his rap sheet, received a $5,000 fine for crosschecking Andrew MacDonald of the Philadelphia Flyers in the face. That brought his total in fines paid to more than $900,000, which is the best investment a player such as Marchand could ever make in his career. The league pointed out that the $5,000 was the maximum allowable fine it could levy on a player without suspending him, but given the fact that he makes $6.2 million a year playing for the Bruins, there’s a good chance he’d be able to find that much in his couch cushions if he looked hard enough.
Brad Marchand has established himself as one of the premier players in the NHL. That much is undeniable. There are those who would argue that he doesn’t have to play this way in order to be an impactful NHL player. But perhaps he does. At the very least, he feels as though he does. And as long as the NHL is going to be complicit in all of this, he’s going to continue to do what he does and he’s going to keep laughing at the league, his team and the fans while doing it.
Remember that next season when he’s looking down at his feet and promising to be better next time.
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