With the NHL coming under massive amounts of criticism already this season for the increase in dangerous concussions being suffered by high-profile players, the last thing the league needed was one of the high-profile NHL picks to pick up a lengthy suspension for inflicting a nasty concussion from an illegal hit on an opposition player.
Sadly for the NHL’s ever-busy PR team, that’s exactly what’s happened, with the Bruins’ Brad Marchand handed a significant five game suspension by the NHL for an illegal hit that left the unfortunate Sami Salo of the Vancouver Canucks out cold during the Canucks’ 4-3 defeat at the weekend.
The problem seemed to come in the form of a violation of a specific rule, Rule 44, Marchand skating towards the player before deciding to duck down, upending Salo and watching on as he fell crashing hard onto the ice. While a shoulder-to-shoulder body check may have been acceptable (something that sounds quite alien to fans of English soccer, who have grown accustomed to seeing players red carded for even the slightest physical contact), the manner in which Marchand went in on the player was branded “predatory” rather than “defensive or instinctive”.
Although the player wasn’t exactly happy with the ruling, it’s important for the standing of the sport in North America, as keeping fans tuning in, travelling to the games or watching live hockey online is vital for the sports health. And that’s without mentioning the prospects of the Bruins for the rest of the season. Therefore it is important that Marchand takes the decision on the chin, accepts his suspension, and moves on as quickly as possible, with the club’s fans hoping that the likes of Benoit Pouliot are able to step up and represent an adequate substitute during the next five games.