Can we talk about the Brad Marchand suspension for a second?

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Bruins forward Brad Marchand received a three-game suspension after slew footing Vancouver defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This is the first suspension Marchand has received since the 2017-2018 season when he laid a hit to the head of now former teammate Marcus Johansson. My head is spinning on this latest suspension ruling, folks.  I’m not the only one: both Captain Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand himself came out this week questioning the ruling given by the league. To me, it was a slew foot. There is no question there. The issue for me is with the term of the suspension and here’s why.

Marchand’s suspension history

Marchand acknowledged himself that he realizes his past suspensions play a factor into any future play that the league decides to review. After the Bruins were eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2018 Stanley Cup Easter Conference semifinals, Marchand acknowledged that he  needed to change. A playoff series that was overshadowed by a few licking incidents which involved Marchand, he realized it was “time to look in the mirror”.

Words are just words though, and you need to walk the walk, right? Well, I think Marchand has in fact walked the walk. Having played over 310 games since his last suspension, Marchand has led not only his team but also the league in points. He is currently top three in the league in points scored over the last four seasons. 

Marchand has changed. However, the league doesn’t determine the suspension ruling on recent good behavior. When it comes to fining a player for infractions, the league only considers a player to be a repeat offender if they have had a previous incident which also resulted in a fine 18 months prior. Suspensions are different though. The league can consider all suspensions throughout a player’s entire career.

Comparing the Marchand Incident to others from this season

Marchand hasn’t been the only culprit of a slew footing incident in this early season. New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban has been involved in three slew footing incidents this season. One such incident occurred in the preseason on New York Rangers forward Ryan Reeves. This play resulted in no punishment despite the fact that Reeves was injured in the play. 

This first instance was followed up by two separate slew footing incidents within eight days of each other. Of which, he was only fined and not suspended. The most recent incident involved former Bruin Milan Lucic. Subban received the maximum fine allowed under the current CBA. This most likely means a suspension will come if there are any other instances going forward. 

Inconsistency in rulings

When looking at Subban’s history and recent activities and comparing them to the Marchand suspension, there is zero consistency. The NHL Department of Player Safety needs to rethink their current system when it comes to reviewing dangerous plays. The way it is currently set up doesn’t come down hard enough on current repeat offenders and seems too fixated on punishing guys who have tried to better themselves- like Brad Marchand.

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-Josh Croteau (@_JCRO on Twitter)

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