NHL to issue edict to Boston Bruins’ forward Brad Marchand to stop licking opponents
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly told ESPN via email that the league will inform the Bruins that Marchand must stop licking the faces of his opponents. “Yes, we will be communicating with the Club. We don’t expect it to happen again,” he said.
In Game 4 between the Bruins and Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday night, Marchand hit forward Ryan Callahan with a low-bridge check in the second period. Callahan later shoved Marchand’s face and Marchand responded by sticking out his tongue and licking Callahan.
“Well, he punched me four times in the face, so, you know, he just kept getting close,” said Marchand on the incident.
It was the second time in this postseason Marchand licked the face of an opponent. In Game 1 of the Bruins’ opening round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, Marchand licked the face of Leafs forward Leo Komarov, after having previously kissed him on the cheek a regular season game.
“I thought he wanted to cuddle. I just wanted to get close to him,” Marchand said after the Komarov incident. “He keeps trying to get close to me. I don’t know if he’s got a thing for me or what. He’s cute.”
The NHL allegedly told the supervisor of officiating for that series to communicate its displeasure to Marchand after that incident, but both Daly and Marchand denied he was warned.
This time, however, Marchand has gone a lap too far.
“I hope the league looks at it,” said Callahan said after the Lightning’s 4-3 overtime win. “I don’t know if there is discipline for spitting in someone’s face. But for me, it’s worse, if not the same.”
Marchand wasn’t penalized for either postseason lick, nor was he given any supplemental discipline from the NHL.
The broadly drawn “gross misconduct” penalty in the NHL would have covered such incidents, but it was taken out of the rule book in 2006 having been seen as redundant, since the NHL also had unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the book. Rule 75 in the NHL covers misconduct penalties, and includes language for a minor penalty (“any player who uses obscene gestures on the ice or anywhere in the rink before, during or after the game”) and for a game misconduct (“any player who persists in any course of conduct, including threatening or abusive language or gestures or similar actions, designed to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty”) that could be applied to Marchand’s chosen form of agitation.
The latest licking incident was the talk of the league on Saturday, for current and former players.
“I saw it. I don’t really get it. I know he’s trying to get into an opponent’s head,” said Penguins center Riley Sheahan, “it’s weird to me.”
Former NHL player Brandon Prust, who was once fined $5,000 for a spearing incident with Marchand, tweeted:
I woulda speared him in the nuts if he did this to me 😉😉 still the best 5k I ever spent to this day! Even over my Turks and Caicos vacation! pic.twitter.com/d8PVSxEOGS
— Brandon Prust (@BrandonPrust8) May 5, 2018
Game 5 between the Lightning and the Bruins is Sunday afternoon in Tampa Bay. Coach Jon Cooper hoped that Marchand’s face wash on Callahan were his last licks.
“There is absolutely no place in our game for that. I don’t get it. I don’t understand it,” said the Lightning coach. “How would you feel if I walked over to you right now and gave you one big lick from the chin up?”
Additional reporting by ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.