Bettman upholds Marchand suspension; What sparked outburst

Brad Marchand Suspension
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The NHL announced on Friday evening that commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld the six-game suspension for Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.

Marchand was suspended by the Department of Player Safety for punching and high-sticking Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry in a recent game. Those actions, combined with Marchand’s extensive track record of suspensions and fines, resulted in the six-game suspension.

Marchand was not happy with the number of games and appealed the ruling hoping to have it reduced. Bettman was not having any of that. The suspension can now be appealed to a neutral arbiter.

[Related: Brad Marchand suspended six games]

In the ruling Bettman makes note of Marchand’s track record, saying “there simply is no player who has a disciplinary history comparable to Mr. Marchand’s.”

He is not wrong. Marchand has now been suspended eight times in his career, and since the forming of the Department of Player Safety prior to the start of the 2011-12 season Marchand has been fined or suspended 10 different times, a number that no player in the league can come close to matching.

Perhaps the most stunning part of the ruling was Marchand’s excuse for why he snapped the way he did. There was a belief that Jarry had something inflammatory, or that Marchand was coming to the defense of teammate Charlie Coyle who appeared to be slashed by Jarry during the preceding play.

None of that was really the case.

Marchand argued in the appeal hearing that he was reacting to Jarry saying “how about that [expletive] save” after Jarry had stopped a shot in the closing minutes of the Penguins’ 4-2 win.

[Related: Marchand believes ‘stupid’ actions not suspension worthy]

“To say that Mr. Marchand overreacted to that comment would be an understatement,” said Bettman in his ruling.

More from the ruling:

Mr. Marchand himself admitted as much, testifying that Mr. Jarry’s comment was “nothing really out of line or derogatory in any kind of way[.]”  Mr. Marchand also admits that he overreacted, stating: “my emotions got the best of me and I made a poor decision.” That overreaction was compounded when Mr. Marchand inexplicably re-engaged with Mr. Jarry while he was being escorted from the ice by the linesman. Any NHL player (and certainly a player as experienced as Mr. Marchand) knows full well that his obligation under those circumstances is to leave the ice without further incident rather than “[go] through” the linesman (to use Mr. Marchand’s words (Tr. 17)) in order to “send … a message” (Tr. 18-19) by striking Mr. Jarry again.6 To the extent there is otherwise any doubt as to the correct quantum of discipline based on the factors discussed above, resisting the direction of a linesman in order to re-engage with an opponent is an additional aggravating factor.

The other thing to keep in mind here is that when Marchand had an altercation with New York Rangers forward Artemi Panarin earlier this season it all began when Marchand made a comment to Panarin about nobody in Russia liking him. When Panarin snapped and threw his glove at Marchand, Marchand commented after the game that if things like that is all it takes to send players over the edge, “then this is the softest league in the world.”

Marchand has already served four games of the suspension with the Bruins going 1-2-1 in those games. He will still miss games against Ottawa and Colorado on Saturday and Monday. He will be eligible to return to the Bruins lineup on February 24 when they open a six-game road trip against the Seattle Kraken.