Bruins vs Canucks: Marchand’s Hit and the Aftermath

The Canucks knocked off the Bruins 4-3 in an exciting, hard-fought game on Saturday afternoon. I hadn’t had time to post about it and was going to wait until the B’s next game to comment on it but the back and forth between Boston and Vancouver after the game has necessitated a post.

The refereeing in the game was terrible – except for Marchand’s dirty hit on Sami Salo. Marchand deserved his five-minute major, game misconduct, and a likely suspension. But of the 107 penalty minutes in the game, those were about the only that the refs called correctly. It began less than four minutes into the game when a full brawl took place on the ice. During a line change the Bruins Shawn Thornton and Canucks’ Alexander Burrows got into it. Somehow, Thornton found himself being attacked by SIX Canucks all at once.

Yes, that’s more players than Vancouver is allowed on the ice. The Bruins quickly came to help Thornton and Milan Lucic, who was about to go off for a line change and had one foot on the ice and one foot on, skated over and helped out as well. And that was the end of Lucic’s night. The refs inexplicably gave him a game misconduct for leaving the bench and in the end, Vancouver ended up with a five-on-three for a full two minutes. How can six Canucks attack Thornton at one time and the refs deem it all okay (with the except of some matching roughing and fighting penalties).

The Canucks scored on the ensuing two-man advantage and eventually scored twice on Marchand’s idiotic play. Vancouver’s other goal? It came on another terrible call when Tyler Seguin was whistled for tripping a Canuck player. In fact, Seguin had tapped the Canuck on the ankle slightly, nothing more. However, this Canucks’ goal only evened up the officiating as the Bruins were gifted a goal themselves after a non-icing call (which as clearly icing) caused Vancouver to relax and when the refs didn’t blow the whistle, Boston took advantage.

All in all, a terribly officiated game.

But the most interesting part is Marchand’s hit and the aftermath. Let’s get this out of the way: it was an ugly, dirty play by a player who has crossed the line before. Marchand plays on the edge and this may have been the play that cements his status as a dirty player. Why he went after Salo, I don’t know. Maybe it was payback for Mason Raymond’s “hip check” on him in the playoffs last year:

Either way, Marchand’s hit Saturday was bad.

After the game, Canucks’ head coach Alain Vigneault called Marchand out saying:

What Marchand did there, you could end a player’s career doing that and I’ve never seen Sami Salo take a run at any player in the NHL. All I’ve seen Sami Salo do is play with integrity and play the right way. Marchand — this is just my feeling on this — someday he’s going to get it. Somebody is going to say enough is enough and they’re going to hurt the kid, because he plays to hurt players, and in my mind if the league doesn’t take care of it, somebody else will.

Bruins’ head coach Claude Julien said after the game that Marchand was protecting himself. I hope Julien doesn’t believe this because it clearly wasn’t the case. Vigneault’s comments that “somebody else will” take care of it and “somebody is…going to hurt the kid” were certainly not necessary. Say that to Brendan Shannahan and the NHL. Bruins’ general manager Peter Chiarelli backed up his team on that point as well:

I think we’ve learned our lesson over time that that’s a real inappropriate comment. That’s a real inappropriate comment and it’s an unprofessional comment. There’s a carryover effect from the playoffs; it’s a big game, it’s a hyped-up game, and there’s a lot of probably pent-up emotion that goes behind that comment. Having said all that, they shouldn’t say stuff like that. I would like to respond in the spirit of protecting our player. The comments made about our player, I don’t like that. Brad does play on the edge, but he’s no dirtier than two or three of their players.

Chiarelli’s last point is the most interesting. He doesn’t say the hit was acceptable or clean. In fact, he says that Marchand is “no dirtier than two or three of their players.” And considering Burrows’s biting incident last year cemented him as a dirty player, he may in fact be subtly admitting that the hit was dirty. Why can’t Chiarelli state it directly though? Why can’t he say that Vigneault’s comments were out of line and then say that, having said that, Marchand did cross the line and will be held accountable. He put his team in a terrible situation, but more importantly, he put the health of another player at risk and that is unacceptable.

The Bruins have been victimized by concussions in the past and been infuriated when the league or a team has not called out its own players when the evidence is clear. Well, the evidence is clear hear that Marchand’s hit was dirty, but the Bruins are acting hypocritically and protecting their player. It’s about time they look in the mirror and follow their own advice.


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