There are many different ways that Saturday’s game between last year’s Stanley Cup Final combatants could have disappointed. The game was so highly-hyped that a bland game would have been more disappointing than the first time Star Wars fans saw Jar Jar Binks.

Fortunately for those who were able to watch, the game, like a club recommended by Stefon, had everything. For those who like fighting, there was a line brawl a few minutes in. For those who like goals, this game had 7 of them. Do you like controversy? The early line brawl inexplicably led to a two-man advantage for the Canucks and a game misconduct for Milan Lucic, while one of the Bruins goals was scored on what the Canucks thought was icing.

For those who like illegal hits…well, there was one of those too.

I’m not particularly interested in going into the details of Brad Marchand’s hit on Sami Salo; suffice it to say, I agree with Brendan Shanahan’s ruling. The penalty was called, the suspension assessed, the issue is essentially closed. Unfortunately, both teams didn’t (and don’t) know when to stop talking it.

The right thing to do for both teams would have been to comment on the hit, register their displeasure with either the hit itself or the call, wait for the decision from Shanahan, then comment on whether they are pleased or displeased with the results. Instead, it turned into a passive aggressive and occasionally aggressive aggressive war of words in the media that only served to make both sides look worse.

Brad Marchand expressed his view that he was defending himself and ducking out of the way of a hit. That’s fine, if that’s his defence, though it’s suspect given the early collision between the two players that Marchand evidently felt wasn’t dangerous enough to duck. I’m even sympathetic to the defence in theory, given that Marchand is 5’9″: I can understand how he’s had to protect himself coming up in hockey. Going low like he did definitely isn’t the best way to do it, however, and hopefully the suspension will prevent him from doing so in the future.

Claude Julien, on the other hand, went a bit too far.

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. Who knows where we’re going to go with this? I know we’re all trying hard to fix that part of the game, but it’s still there, and it’s still not fixed.

First of all, it was Sami Salo. Last time he took a run at something, he tore his achilles tendon. Second of all, the solution to taking dangerous hits out of the game isn’t a different type of dangerous hit. That’s a logical fallacy in the highest degree. This kind of comment just makes Julien sound like a coach who encourages cheap shots. I sincerely doubt he is, which is why he probably should have stopped talking.

Of course, Alain Vigneault couldn’t resist some entirely unnecessary smack talk in response:

That’s a stupid comment. What Marchant did, you could end a player’s career doing that. I’ve never seen Sami Salo take a run at any player in the NHL. All Sami Salo has done is play the game with integrity.

“Stupid” was probably a bit strong. I mean, it’s true, but it’s probably not ideal to have that coming from an NHL coach. It didn’t help that he followed it up with a stupid comment of his own:

Marchand — and this is just my feeling — but someday he’s going to get it. Someday, someone’s going to say “enough is enough” and they’re going to hurt the kid because he plays to hurt players. And if the league doesn’t care, somebody else will.

And that is going too far. Was it a threat? Not exactly, but it’s stupid for the same reason Julien’s comments were stupid: the response to dangerous hits cannot be a different type of dangerous hit. It’s also ripe for misinterpretation and many immediately jumped to the comparison to the Bertuzzi/Moore incident. That’s also too far, but it doesn’t happen unless Vigneault makes these comments.

Predictably, Julien, Marchand, and GM Peter Chiarelli had their own response to Vigneault’s comments and it was enough to make everyone wish the two parties would just resolve their differences with a massive pillow fight and be done with it.

Unfortunately, Brad Marchand has been writing a blog for ESPN Boston giving him another opportunity to have his say. He reiterated his claim that he was protecting himself and that he didn’t think it was clipping. Fair enough, though the NHL disagrees. He probably should have left it at that:

It technically wasn’t a clip. Clipping is when you hit someone at the knees and I did not hit him at the knees. Anyone that has seen the video will see that I hit him in the upper thigh under the buttocks. They can call it a clipping, but they obviously don’t know the rules of hockey.

The “they” he’s referring to that “obviously don’t know the rules of hockey” could be any number of people, but here are some interesting names to throw out there: Dan O’Rourke and Don VanMassenhoven, the referees who, y’know, called it clipping. The guys who, by definition, are supposed to know and enforce the rules of hockey and two of the most experienced referees in the league. Whether you agree with the call or not, it’s probably not a good idea to say that about them.

There’s also Brendan Shanahan, veteran of 1524 career games over 21 total seasons in the NHL, future Hall of Famer, and current head of the Department of Player Safety. He also called it clipping. So I guess he “obviously” doesn’t know the rules.

I sincerely hope that both sides are done talking about the subject, because neither helped their arguments. Indications are that the Canuck players have been instructed not to discuss the incident, while Chiarelli released an official statement about the suspension that will hopefully be the end of it from the Bruins side. With no more meetings between the two sides this season, unless they meet for a sequel in the Stanley Cup Final, there won’t be any more reason to bring it up.

Comments (28)

  1. Overall decent article, but I find the suggestion that Don VanMassenhoven knows how to correctly call a hockey game to be laughable.

  2. I know both teams are blabbing too much, but that final Bruin tantrum, with the GM statement followed by the Marchand diary… That’s just something else. Wow.

  3. Can we suspend the NHL All-Star Game and just have the Bruins and Canucks play each other again on Jan 28th and 29th?

  4. Those officials are the same guys who tossed Lucic and gave the Canucks a 5 on 3 PP for going 6 on 1 on Shawn Thornton, so perhaps Marchand has a point.

    Y’know, the Bruins seldom if ever whine (check last year’s SCF if you want to see the contrast between them and the Canucks), and they often frustrate their fans by refusing to respond to yappers like Vigneault and Lindy Ruff. But this pushed them over the edge, and I applaud Chiarelli and Julien for saying enough is enough.

    • Well, it’s pretty easy not to whine if everything is going your way.

    • Marchand would slide in perfectly on the Canucks line up. I generally agree with your premise. However, Marchand is the prototypical Canuck player.

      It’s one of those….becoming what you hate things ;)

      • Except marchand stands up for himself when he needs to. See game 1 scf.

        • Provided the opponent is Matt Niskannen, last seen getting his ass handed to him by, uh, Sidney Crosby, of all people.

        • Lapierre has twice as many fights as Marchand this year.

          And Kesler has fought WAY tougher opponents than Marchand: Iggy, Getzlaf, Ladd, Umberger, Weber etc….

      • Except the Canucks don ‘t have any players that throw cheapshots intended to injure.

        Burrows and Lappy (and to a lesser extent these days, Kes) chirp a lot, but they don’t actually endanger anyone.

        Torres was the only guy who crossed that line last year, and he’s gone now.

        • Just because they arent getting fined or suspended doesn’t mean the Canucks dont play dirty. theres no team thats more ugly to watch then those degenerates.

  5. Nice article, Daniel. Thanks. I find it surprising that Marchand has a blog in which he’s entitled to put out for mass public consumption what he thinks about the game, this incident and the decision. Imagine if every player sat down after every game and said what he thought! That would be pretty interesting, and not particularly constructive. Perhaps even destructive. I admit I’m looking through blue and green coloured glasses, but I’m not seeing the Bruins take anywhere near a high road on this. As you pointed out, everyone has said way too much and none of it is serving to make anyone look anywhere near intelligent. And that’s not even mentioning what’s been going back and forth between fans.

  6. The irony of the whole thing is that last year part of the reason the Canucks were such a hated team was the annoying whining, diving, cheap play of Burrows/Lapierre et al.

    Marchand has become exactly that. He is Burrows.

    It is even funnier to watch Bruins fans who ripped the Nucks dirty little rats last year now love Marchand.

    Ahhhhhh to be blinded by one’s own team. Gotta love sports.

  7. i’ve been thinking they could take a page from soccer. anyone guilty of excessive force is red-carded (the equivalent of a game misconduct ) AND automatically suspended for five games (of course in soccer it’s only one game but as with football it’s a shorter season) and has to appear before a board to explain why the suspension shouldn’t be for a longer period of time. hockey, like soccer, could be a beautiful game. right now there are too many ugly incidents to deem it such.

  8. The Bruins’ overall response to this whole situation is just risible. There screencaptures in the suspension video showing contact directly to the knee. And the notion that Sami Salo, moving toward the puck upright at 2 mph constitutes a run is insane.

    Worst part is, I’m actually sympathetic to the view that we’d see less injuries on aggregate if hitters had a higher likelihood of catching a stick in the gut or elbow in the teeth any time a he leaps off his feet or takes ten steps on the way to finishing his check. I think you’d see less charges. Way less charges. With less charges being made, you’d see less guys taking runs getting speared or elbowed. I think it would snowball to good effect.

    But this Marchand hit isn’t an example of that. Salo wasn’t even braced for a hit, let alone taking a run. This is nothing other than an example of a petulant baby going after the knees someone who had the audacity to not fall over from the last body check made by the aforementioned baby.

  9. The NHL is ridiculously infatuated with the Canucks. I am seriously disappointed with Shanahan as I have seen this hit numerous amounts of time without any suspensions handed out. if the hit was placed on marchand by Salo i guarantee the league would not suspend or give a 5 minute major.

    Are we all forgetting the cheap hits that Vancouver dished out on Chicago last postseason? No suspensions were handed out there.

    The NHL has a bias when it comes to suspensions and you must be blind if you don’t think that vancouver comes out on the top end of every possible infraction. Its getting to the point where the NHL either needs to smarten up or expect more of the same behaviour from other teams that try and compete fairly. Gary Bettman and Shanahan FTL

    PS Vancouver is the shittiest bandwagon team in the entire NHL. BLACKHAWKS FTW

    • Your proposition is that the NHL is biased towards the Canucks when it comes to suspensions and that “Vancouver come out on the top end of every possible infraction” when it comes to suspensions. Your argument is such that even one negative example destroys it. Thus, I provide the counter-example: Aaron Rome.

      Your argument is now what it has always been: garbage.

    • A Blackhawks fan accusing Vancouver of bandwagoning? That’s pretty good. Did you know your team even existed before 2008?

  10. Bostons is so lucky the Canucks dont have Gino or donald on their team anymore. Amazing how a team that prides itself on playing tough like Boston whines so much. They win one cheap cup, thanks to little greggorys daddy and his lackey shanny, and they think theryre the second coming of jesus. LOL I guess getting raped by the habs for so many years have really messed with their heads. One lousy cheap cup, and now Bostons acts like theyre untouchable? Laughable..highly entertaining but all delusional.LOL
    Marchand not only is a burke rat, he looks like one too. Just look at his unbent long big nose and his whiskers…you can tell he’s a chicken rat who’s never got into a real fight.LOl

  11. ya marchand a pussy it runs in his family, i went to school with them

  12. Enough is enough. If the Canucks refuse to goon up for those games there will be more injuries. The only way to put a stop to it is by driving your fist down their throat. Sad but true. Refs are not there to babysit. Just when I thought the game was going the way of skill I see this crap. So to sum up ..unless you are willing to risk having your players injured you must have guys are your team who’s job it is to keep the rats in line. If Canucks brass are not willing to change their thinking then it is time for new brass.

  13. Canucks ARE NOT the Detroit Red wings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *