Brad Marchand will miss the Bruins’ next three games after being suspended for slew-footing Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Sunday.
On Tuesday, Marchand met with the media and reacted to the NHL Department of Player Safety’s decision, expressing surprise at the result.
“I was obviously surprised, just with kind of the way things have played out with some of those calls recently,” Marchand said. “My opinion on it doesn’t really matter. It obviously doesn’t change anything. It is what it is.”
Linemate Patrice Bergeron also referenced other similar plays that have been met only with fines this season. While neither named anyone in particular, it’s a safe bet that they’re referencing Devils defenseman P.K. Subban, who has gotten away with three apparent slew-foots since the preseason without being suspended. He has been fined for two of them. The league has referred to those incidents as trips rather than slew-foots, leading to some confusion over where the line is between the two infractions.
This is the seventh suspension of Marchand’s career, but the first since January 2018. He said he has made a genuine effort to clean up his game, and that he believes he has. He was hoping that would work in his favor when it came to his sentence here, but also said he knows he will never be able to fully escape his history.
“I have tried extremely hard over the last four years to get away from the reputation I’ve had,” Marchand said. “I think I’ve done an extremely good job with that. I know early on I crossed over the line a lot of times. It’s unfortunate that continues to haunt me. If you go back, it’s 310-plus games, almost four years of good, hard… I play hard, there’s no question. And I compete. But I’m no longer the player that I was that had to break into the league, and the way that I felt like I had to establish myself.
“So I was hoping that at this point, they would’ve seen past what’s gone on before that. I mean, you can look at my stats the last four, five years. I think I’m third behind McDavid and Draisaitl in statistics. I feel like I’ve completely transformed myself from the player I was to a player that should be respected in this league for his abilities. But again, I understand completely the history that I have. I was just hoping they would’ve seen past that, and obviously that wasn’t the case.”
As for the play itself, Marchand said everything happened fast and that he was just trying to make contact, not sweep Ekman-Larsson’s leg out from under him or anything.
“It is very easy to sit there and stop the camera and play it frame-by-frame and say I should’ve done this and I should’ve done that and you can’t hit him this way and you can’t hit him that way,” Marchand said. “He’s, what, 6-foot-4? I don’t know that he’s going to fall when I hit him. I’m expecting him to hit me. I don’t know that it’s Ekman-Larsson. I’m not looking at him. I’m playing the puck. I have it, it’s poked away from me, and then I’m trying to make contact with the player. I think he’s going to hit me. I’m trying to hit him back.
“The way that our bodies get intertwined, he’s bumping into me, I’m bumping into him, we’re close to each other. If I’m in a certain position because I’m smaller… that’s like the refs, the other night a guy hit me in the head and I was like, ‘Why aren’t you calling it?’ And he’s like, ‘It’s because you’re smaller. He’s gonna hit you in the head every time.’ I’m smaller. I’m gonna get leverage under a tall guy. That’s just the way it is.
“So I’m not gonna sit here and say I was thinking this or that. I was trying to hit a guy I thought was trying to hit me. That’s how things play out sometimes. It’s a fast game. Things happen in a split second. When I go in to hit a guy, I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, I better lighten up here because my leg’s a little bit behind his.’ That’s not how this thing plays out. If I lay up, kind of let up a bit and this guy buries me, I’m not gonna do that. I’m gonna hit a guy that I feel is trying to make contact with me, and that’s what I did. I didn’t kick his legs out. I didn’t do anything like that.”