NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has decided to uphold Brad Marchand’s six-game suspension for his ‘unacceptable’ altercation with the Penguins’ Tristan Jarry, the NHL confirmed Friday night.
Bettman’s decision to uphold the suspension, the longest of Marchand’s career, came 48 hours after Bettman and the NHL heard Marchand’s appeal Wednesday afternoon in New York City.
The appeal also shed some light into what exactly transpired between Marchand and Jarry in the closing moments of that game.
According to the official report of Marchand’s appeal, Marchand’s meltdown on Jarry began when Jarry said, “How about that f–king save?” at Marchand following a late-period stop in what was essentially a decided game (and loss) for the Bruins. Marchand overreacted to the comment and simply lost his mind on Jarry for the comment, which he admitted to Bettman, saying that Jarry’s comment was “nothing really out of line or derogatory in any kind of way,” adding “my emotions got the best of him and I made a poor decision.”
But in their appeal of the six-game suspension, Marchand and his reps cited a 2019 incident with Joe Thornton and Petr Mrazek where Thornton punched Mrazek, a 2019 incident of Milan Lucic going wild on Kole Sherwood, and a 2019 two-game suspension handed down to Radko Gudas for high-sticking Nikita Kucherov.
“I note that the on-ice officials also assessed a match penalty against Mr. Marchand for a deliberate attempt to injure under Playing Rule 21.1. (NHL Ex. 3.) However, DPS did not find that Mr. Marchand deliberately attempted to injure Mr. Jarry and, giving Mr. Marchand the benefit of the doubt, I decline to make such a finding here,” Bettman wrote in the report. “I accept Mr. Marchand’s explanation that he is an aggressive and emotional player who crossed a line (one that he has crossed before), but without any intent to injure Mr. Jarry. (Tr. 10). There is also no question that the conduct involved was intentional. Mr. Marchand deliberately stepped around the referee in order to deliver the punch to Mr. Jarry well after the play had been whistled dead (i.e., roughing). As he was being escorted off the ice, Mr. Marchand then deliberately, while in the grasp of the linesman, approached Mr. Jarry to deliver an intentional stick jab to Mr. Jarry’s head and neck area (i.e., high-sticking).”
Bettman also brought up Marchand’s lengthy suspension history in his decision to uphold the Department of Player Safety’s decision to suspend Marchand for six contests.
“No active player has been suspended more times than Mr. Marchand; this is his eighth (8th) suspension. (NHL Ex. 1.) In addition, he has been fined four (4) times for physical fouls.3 Although the on-ice penalty calls that resulted in supplementary discipline have varied in their specifics, all have involved serious violations, including elbowing, slew footing, clipping, roughing, spearing, cross-checking and (now) high sticking,” Bettman wrote. “It is, to say the least, an unenviable record. And (again), to make matters worse, Mr. Marchand’s most recent suspension prior to this one occurred less than three months ago, when he was suspended for three (3) games for 2 Mr. Sweeney aptly characterized the conduct as an “immature move” that was “completely unnecessary.” (Tr. 34.) 3 This excludes a fine for diving/embellishment, which I find to be irrelevant in the context of this matter. 8 slew footing Vancouver Canucks player Oliver Ekman-Larsson on November 28, 2021.
“When a player repeatedly commits multiple violations worthy of supplementary discipline within a relatively short period of time, the principle of progressive discipline clearly warrants an escalation in the quantum of discipline. That is particularly true where, as here, the Player is one whose career has been marked by repeated prior instances of supplementary discipline. In short, both Mr. Marchand’s record of eight (8) suspensions and four (4) fines, and his recent experience involving separate infractions twenty-one (21) games apart from one another, call for discipline significantly over and above the three (3) game suspension imposed in November 2021.”
In the eyes of Bettman, and in the simplest terms, the league already gave Marchand the benefit of the doubt when they decided to suspend him for three games for the Ekman-Larsson slewfoot, as it was a reduction from the five-game suspension he was hit with for elbowing Marcus Johansson back in January 2018.
Saturday’s head-to-head with the Sens up in Ottawa will be Marchand’s fifth game missed due to suspension, and Bettman’s decision rules Marchand out for the team’s Monday matinee head-to-head with the Avalanche at TD Garden.
As for Marchand’s next steps, he could appeal to an independent arbitrator if he desires.
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.