Boston Bruins

Brad Marchand has become such a force with the puck on his stick, that it’s even led to calls for the NHL to treat him similarly to how it handles questionable behavior by Sidney Crosby and other star players. Marchand’s latest incident could be a small example of that.

The NHL’s Department of Player Safety didn’t let Marchand get away with cross-checking Flyers defenseman Andrew MacDonald in the face during Sunday’s game. They acted swiftly, hitting Marchand with the maximum $5,000 fine for the incident. But considering Marchand’s deep history of trouble with the league and reputation as a dirty player, there was a marked outcry on social media for him to get another suspension.

Marchand avoided another ban, which would’ve added to the five games he already got for elbowing the Devils’ Marcus Johansson in the back of the head. But to be fair, that play was certainly more vicious than his cross-check to MacDonald, which apparently didn’t injure the Flyers defenseman.

The cross-check wasn’t the worst thing Marchand has ever done. But with this player, what does that really mean at this point? It was a bone-headed decision that earned him a penalty and subsequently made a little dent in his wallet. Yet it comes as a surprise pretty much everywhere outside of Boston that the punishment wasn’t much stronger.

You really can’t look at the cross-check and deem it anything less than an ill-advised retaliation, and one done with purpose. This wasn’t a bang-bang play or a split-second decision. Marchand could’ve just stepped over the sprawled MacDonald and moved on. But for whatever reason, he felt the need to give MacDonald a stick to the face before that.

And even though MacDonald wasn’t seriously injured on the play, you can also look at the play and feel fortunate that Marchand avoided a suspension. If spearing Jake Dotchin below the belt got him a couple of games last season, it shouldn’t have been a shock if he got hit with one or two for this.

But he didn’t – and it may be the league subtly admitting that he’s not a player they want to take away from viewers in the coming weeks. The league knows what they have in Marchand most of the time he’s on the ice; the league named him second star of the month for March after he scored 34 points (12 goals, 21 assists) in 26 games.

It’s the reality of Marchand. He’ll make electric plays when he has the puck, he’ll get under the other team’s skin and muck it up when he has to, and occasionally he’ll take it a step too far and get himself in trouble. The league appears prepared to be decisive with him when he does those things that cross the line.

And with the playoffs on the horizon, it looks like the NHL also isn’t in the business of taking one of its top talents off the ice. That would be great news for Bruins fans – and a source of outrage for just about everyone else.

— 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 matthew.dolloff@bbgi.com.