Brad Marchand addressed his five-game suspension for the first time since the NHL handed him a five-game ban when he met with reporters on Thursday. The winger gave a contrite series of responses, expressing remorse for hurting the team by getting suspended and injuring an opposing player in the process.
Marchand has always played a chippy game. But it’s one that can lead to questionable (some may say dirty) acts on the ice. His latest, an elbow to the side of the head of the Devils’ Marcus Johansson, caused the latter to suffer a concussion.
“I’ve been trying to play a certain way for a while now, and it was never my intent to get into a situation like this, to injure Marcus, so hopefully he has a full healthy recovery very quickly,” Marchand told reporters on Thursday. “I let my teammates down – I know that – and I let the organization down. I have to be better, there’s no question.”
Brad Marchand Talks Suspension: ‘I Want To Be Known As A Good Player’
Obviously, Marchand doesn’t go out there looking to actually injure people. He’s not a sociopath. But perhaps he finally realizes the danger and the consequences of some of the things he tends to do. Perhaps he understands that he can be the force in the league that he’s become without whipping his elbow through a guy’s face.
“The last thing I want to do is do anything to hurt the team, and that’s obviously what I’ve done here. It wasn’t what I was trying to do,” said Marchand. “We have a great team, and they’re going to battle hard and do everything they can to win the games. I’ll be there rooting them on. But I put my team in a disadvantage again, and I feel very bad about that.”
Marchand’s legacy apparently came into a discussion between him and head coach Bruce Cassidy. Marchand has become an excellent player in the NHL. A perennial All-Star, as long as he plays the way he has in recent seasons. Ultimately, he wants to be known as that – not a guy that injures opponents with cheap shots.
“Obviously, I want to be known as a good player. I’ve worked very hard to become a decent player in this league, and things like this obviously hinder that,” said Marchand. “It’s something that I will continue to work on and be better at.”
Of course, saying you need to be better and actually being better are two entirely different things. Step one for Marchand is going a full hockey season without getting suspended, because it’s four in a row now. And no sane person is saying he’s trying to hurt the team or that he wanted to injure Johansson or get suspended. The question is whether he can resist making these kinds of moves instinctively. Whether he can remove this unfortunate part of his hockey instincts from his mind. Because it really needs to before he gets another player hurt or lets the team down in an even more important situation.
Maybe he finally gets that he needs to do something about these impulsive kinds of moves that do nothing to help him (certainly not like they used to) or help the Bruins.
But that won’t be known until Marchand takes the ice again. He’s in the odd position now of going to the All-Star Game for his legitimately All-Star-caliber season (50 points, plus-24 in just 38 games) while having to field questions about his latest suspension.
It might just be an unfortunate reality that Marchand will be outstanding when he’s in the lineup, but occasionally have to take a suspension due to crossing the line. Still, that’s wholly unfair to Marcus Johansson, who’s now battling a concussion. Marchand can and should be better, at the very least in terms of the safety of other players. We’ll see if he finally understands that.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.