Tuesday, January 10, 2012

More on the Marchand Hit

After sleeping on it I have some more, perhaps less biased, observations about the Marchand hit and its aftermath.

It seems clear to me that the position of Marchand and the Bruins organization that he was simply defending himself is, well, indefensible. Marchand saw an opportunity to throw a hip check at Salo designed to toss him onto the ice in spectacular fashion. But he did so dangerously with what was clearly a clip.

Also, Claude Julien said that, "In my opinion, if guys start protecting themselves the way Marchand did, maybe guys will stop taking runs at other guys because that’s the consequences you end up paying for taking runs at guys, too.”

I hate to agree with Vignault, but this really was a dumb thing to say. It is clear to everyone who has looked carefully at the video that Salo didn't take a run at Marchand. Even if he had, it was still a dumb thing to say.

I must also say that I really like how Shanahan makes these videos explaining the league's decisions when a suspension is handed out. Here is the one about Marchand.


That said, I still think some things about this suspension stink. First off, I don't like the use of the term predatory. It implies the intent to injure. I do not believe that Marchand wanted to injure Salo. I think he wanted to make a spectacular hit, and being smaller than Salo, some sort of hip check was his best option. Others may disagree, but that is in fact my point. We cannot know what his intentions were. Therefore intentions have no place in these disciplinary actions. It follows that it is unfair for the league to label this as a predatory hit.

Second, I don't believe a suspension should depend on whether or not the other player was injured. I am not alone in this. Many others have spoken out about this absurd practice by the league. Punish the infraction, not the result. It is my belief that Marchand and Salo could replay this hit a hundred times and 95 times Salo either bounces off or lands harmlessly on the ice. The way the two players came together Salo landed on his head, which was unfortunate. This is one of the reasons clipping is dangerous and should be penalized. But to not suspend other players for the exact same move simply because nobody got hurt is inconsistent. The result is that the Marchand suspension can legitimately be seen by Bruins fans as too arbitrary.

Lastly, there were some regrettable things that were said in the media yesterday by people connected with the Bruins organization. I think they should take a long hard look at themselves and in the future not be baited into this sort of debate. If you hear yourself saying, "I usually don't like to comment on these things," then for goodness sake stop right there!

Consider what was said when Marchand was suspended last spring for an elbow to the head. Afterward Julien said, "You hope the player learns from it. You have to respect what the league is trying to do and not be hypocritical. We looked at the play with him a few times and made sure he saw what had happened there, so he could understand it. Hopefully he learns from it and is a little more careful in regards to those head hits. We don’t think there’s any need for it in the game, so we all have to be aware of that. If we’re going to clean it up as coaches, you’ve got to be supportive of it and you’ve got to help those players through that as well.”

That was clearly taking the high road. It was taking responsibility for what happened. Why didn't that happen this time? It doesn't excuse what the Bruins said, but I believe that had the Canucks organization simply said, "We don't comment on league discipline matters" things would have been very different. One of the more difficult things to do in life is to remain  above it all rather than stoop to the level of your opponent when they have no class. The Bruins failed to do this. The Canucks should have taken the high road and turned their attention to their next game versus the Panthers rather than create a media circus. Who knows, maybe they would have even beaten them. In short, I still think they are a bunch of whiners and their success in bringing the Bruins down to their level only makes it all the worse.

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