A late-game meltdown on Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry will cost Bruins winger Brad Marchand in a major way, as the NHL Department of Player Safety has hit the Boston superstar with a career-long six-game suspension.
The league’s disciplinary department made their ruling just hours after their in-person (but via Zoom) hearing with Marchand, who practiced with the Bruins on Wednesday but exited Tuesday’s loss with a match penalty for the incident.
“After the whistle sounds and play comes to a halt, Marchand takes a step around the referee and delivers a gloved punch to the head of the unsuspecting goaltender, knocking him to the ice and setting off a scrum,” the Department of Player Safety noted in their video explanation for Marchand’s latest ban. “Marchand is restrained by a linesman who attempts to escort him off of the ice. As Marchand is being escorted toward the dressing room, he fights through the grasp of the linesman, pushes towards Jarry again and delivers a sharp jab to the head and neck area of Jarry with his stick. On this play, Marchand is guilty of two violations that warrant supplemental discipline: roughing and high sticking.”
And though Jarry brushed the incident off as ‘heat of the battle’ type of contact between the two after the game, the NHL did not view it similarly, and had a major problem with, well, everything Marchand did to get to Jarry.
“It is important to note that these acts — both the punch to Jarry and the high stick — were delivered well after the conclusion of play. This was not contact that occurred in the context of a battle for the puck, where players are attempting to score a goal or to defend their net. This was also not a confrontation after the puck is frozen, in which a goaltender initiates a physical altercation with an offensive player and is prepared or should be prepared for some type of physical response,” the DoPS video explained. “Here, Jarry does not initiate the altercation with Marchand. He is on his knees after having frozen the puck and should not expect contact from Marchand in any form, much less a full, gloved punch to the side of the head. We find the totality of this play, an intentional punch to the side of the head on an unsuspecting goaltender, coupled with an intentional high stick delivered to the head and neck area while being escorted off of the ice, unacceptable and warranting supplemental discipline.”
The league also considered Marchand’s repeat offender status, with Marchand thrown back in their crosshairs with his three-game ban for slew-footing the Canucks’ Oliver Ekman-Larsson back in November, and clearly hammered him as a result.
“In determining the length of suspensions, the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and the NHL Players Association states, ‘players who repeatedly violate league playing rules will be more severely punished for each new violation,'” the video acknowledged. “Marchand has been suspended seven times and fined five times previously, with his latest suspension being levied in November of 2021. To summarize, this is roughing and high sticking. Marchand is classified as a repeat offender. Under the terms of the CBA, the Department of Player Safety has suspended Brad Marchand for six games.”
As noted, this is the longest suspension of Marchand’s career, and his longest since a five-game suspension for elbowing then-Devils winger Marcus Johansson in the head back in January 2018.
Marchand’s six-game suspension means that he will miss some pretty important head-to-heads for the Bruins, too, beginning with Thursday night against the Hurricanes and continuing with two showdowns against the Senators, meetings with the Rangers and Islanders, and a home date with the Avalanche.
The Bruins are also currently without captain Patrice Bergeron, who exited Tuesday’s game with a head injury and did not skate Wednesday, as well, leaving the Black and Gold down their most effective one-two punch.
Marchand currently leads the Bruins in both assists (28) and points (49), and is the league’s 12th-highest scorer this season.