In the case of Marchand, it was by most accounts, an unforced error. The NHL didn’t buy the defense that Marchand was defending himself from New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson, instead handing the repeat offender a significant five-game suspension.
The NHL’s official explanation video notes that it “was not a defensive maneuver” and acknowledges that Marchand’s past as a repeat offender (five suspensions before this one, also three fines) played a role in the decision. The clip doesn’t mention Johansson’s possible concussion, however.
The narrative had been that Marchand was cleaning up his ways during his ascent among the NHL’s elite. He told The Toronto Star’s Bruce Arthur in November that he’s trying to avoid suspensions.
“I’m trying to get away from the s— a little bit, and I have, just because they crack down on it so easily now and I can’t afford to get suspended. … There are very few guys on any team that even get into anything. These kids that come up now, they’re all skill players, they don’t get into it. There’s no fighters anymore.”
Somewhat awkwardly, this five-game suspension might not stop Marchand from attending the 2018 All-Star Game this weekend.
It’s been a controversial stretch for the Department of Player Safety. On one hand, many argue that they went too harsh with Andrew Cogliano, ending his ironman streak with a two-game suspension. Bitterness boiled over on that even more when Dustin Brown avoided a suspension for a nasty cross-check on Justin Schultz.
If those decisions were too hot and too cold, was this five-game suspension just right? If not, was it too little or even too much, considering his history?
Either way, NBCSN’s Liam McHugh is correct in saying that it was more than a slap on the wrist. Bob McKenzie provides more insight on the decision: