Primary Menu

Boston Bruins

Nov 28, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) skates with the puck with Vancouver Canucks center Jason Dickinson (18) defending during the first period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports

Stop if you’ve heard this one before: Brad Marchand is getting a call from the league office.

The Bruins’ superstar winger obviously isn’t as much of a troublemaker as he used to be, mainly because he’s an offensive force and doesn’t need to resort to rat tactics like he did early in his career. But he certainly had himself a week during Thanksgiving week. In case you missed it, he goaded the Rangers’ Artemi Panarin into throwing a glove at him, which earned the Rangers winger a $5,000 fine.

Now, it’s Marchand who’s in trouble. NHL Player Safety announced Monday that Marchand will have a hearing for what they termed a slew-foot against the Canucks’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson during Boston’s win on Sunday night. (UPDATE: Marchand has been suspended three games for the incident.)

Here’s the play in question:

You can see here – especially if you rewatch the clip over and over, frame-by-frame – that Marchand may have given Ekman-Larsson a little extra with his right skate at the end of the hit. But Marchand may have an alibi. It’s clear that when he engages with Ekman-Larsson, his intention is to drive into him shoulder-to-shoulder and knock him on his ass that way.

If you deem this a slew-foot, you’d at least have to admit that it’s not your standard run-of-the-mill slew-foot. It’s shoudler-to-shoulder contact in a battle for a loose puck, and perhaps a little extracurricular with the feet. Typically, a slew-foot is almost entirely leg and skate contact. P.K. Subban is the undisputed champion of slew-footing:

Maybe Marchand gets a fine for the play, but that should be about it. Naturally, because of Marchand’s well-earned reputation around the league, you got people calling for multi-game suspensions. As is tradition.

And apparently, the Marchand hatred has extended to actual broadcasters. TNT analyst (and former Bruin) Anson Carter pointed out that one of the Canucks’ own analysts (unclear who it was) said out loud during the game that he hates Marchand. Carter used that as an example to explain why players “don’t want to play in Canada.” Apparently it gets “personal” up there. It’s certainly the case in bigger Canadian markets like Toronto. The sports media up there is as brutal as one can imagine, and in Boston, we can sure imagine a lot.

Marchand was asked about the comment by the Canucks broadcaster, and had a refreshingly nuanced take on the matter.

“They’re very, very passionate about the game,” Marchand said, presumably speaking on Canadians in general. “You know, hockey is a way of life in Canada. It’s just that’s the way it is. As soon as you can walk, you put skates on and the lakes are always frozen in Canada, so there’s always ice available and ponds and stuff like that. So it’s a way of life. There’s a lot of passionate fans for their teams, and I think that just kind of bleeds over into it.

“I mean, there’s a lot of cases when teams don’t do well in Canada, that it’s hard on players. Their families get picked on, their kids get picked on in school. So, you know, the fans can be a big part of why teams don’t have success because they make it miserable on players at times. And they definitely push guys away to go to teams that don’t have that kind of fan base. So sometimes the fans out there need to look themselves in the mirror as well.”

BOSTON, MA - NOVEMBER 21: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Calgary Flames at the TD Garden on November 21, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Flames won 4-0. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

BOSTON, MA – NOVEMBER 21: Brad Marchand #63 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Calgary Flames at the TD Garden on November 21, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Flames won 4-0. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Real fans certainly get angry sometimes. It’s part of being passionate and emotional about your team. But obviously, people can take it too far at times. And we sure know around here how that is, with both fans and media, and it’s documented that athletes have wanted out after getting the full Boston experience (see Crawford, Carl).

But I digress. This story started with an alleged slew-foot and it’s become a whole discussion on the way players are covered and followed in the culture of their respective sports. It’s no surprise that Marchand is a lightning rod for those kinds of discussions.

At the end of the day, that’s a bigger topic than whether he’ll be fined for a borderline hit on a guy that wasn’t injured.

MORE: Brad Marchand shows he can do it all for Bruins

Click here for complete Boston Bruins coverage at 985TheSportsHub.com.

Matt Dolloff is a writer and podcaster 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? Yell at him on Twitter @mattdolloff and follow him on Instagram @mattydsays. You can also email him at mdolloff@985thesportshub.com.