Marcus Johansson‘s brief time with the New Jersey Devils was ultimately derailed by injuries, the most significant of which was a concussion that cut his 2017-18 season down to just 29 games.
He suffered that concussion when Brad Marchand elbowed him in the head back on Jan. 23, 2018, resulting in Marchand being suspended for five games. It was one of the nine times in Marchand’s career that he had been fined or suspended for an on-ice incident.
Later in the season Johansson had some pretty harsh words for the play, Marchand, and the length of the suspension.
Just a quick refresher for you:
“It was stupid. There’s nothing else to say about it. I think there was no point in doing that,” he told reporters after Monday’s practice. “There was no hockey play whatsoever there. It’s sad to see that there are still guys out there trying to hurt other guys… It’s sad. It’s stupid. I hope it doesn’t come to him ending someone else’s career before it’s enough. It’s not why we play the game.
“I think there are always situations where you try to hit someone, you try to make a hockey play and things go wrong. Then there are plays like this where I think it’s got nothing to do with hockey. It’s sad to see. I guess I’m unfortunate to be on the receiving end of that.”
This all relevant now because on Monday the Bruins, who still employ Brad Marchand, acquired Johansson from the Devils in an effort to bolster their scoring depth and make a potential run at the Stanley Cup.
Given the history between the two players it was definitely one of the most interesting trades of the day, and on Tuesday Johansson addressed the elephant in the room that is that history.
Johansson said, via Matt Porter of the Boston Globe, that he received a call from Marchand shortly after the trade along with an apology for the hit.
Johansson said “it was great” and, basically, “these things happen,” and he just wants to put it all behind him.
“Most teams you have guys you’ve bumped heads with a little bit,” Johansson said. “For me, it’s something I’ve put behind me. I’m happy that I’m just playing hockey right now. I’ve just heard great things about Marchy, that he’s a great guy and a great teammate, and he’s a hell of a hockey player.”
So, there is that.
Given the impact the play had on Johansson’s career and life and how strong his emotions were in the aftermath it’s hard to imagine those feelings have just simply gone away in the blink of an eye. He is human, and humans hold grudges against people that have wronged them either physically or emotionally. But he is also correct that if you play enough NHL games on enough NHL teams you are probably going to have a teammate that you have had some sort of on-ice issue with in the past.
Your only choice at that point is try and put it behind you as best you can and work together toward your common goal.
Johansson, now fully healthy, has been on a roll over the past month and joins the Bruins riding a 13-game stretch where he has recorded 12 points. That is exactly the type of secondary scoring his new team needs.
Given how top-heavy the Bruins’ lineup has been this season, especially at forward, he and Charlie Coyle could prove to be huge additions for a Bruins team that has very quietly climbed near the top of the NHL standings.
More: Bruins reunite Johansson with his buddy Marchand
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.