The NHL should not have allowed Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand to attend the All-Star Game
The NHL spat in the face of player safety by allowing Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand to participate in All-Star weekend despite having only served one game of his five-game suspension. He was suspended for a blatant elbow to the head of forward Marcus Johansson in the final minutes of a 3-2 Boston Bruins victory over the New Jersey Devils. The Devils forward suffered a concussion as a result of the pathetic cheap shot from a repeat offender.
Marchand has now been suspended six times in his career and fined three other times. Given his history of suspensions and fines, he should have been nowhere near what some consider the biggest celebration of the NHL during the year. By allowing Marchand to participate in the weekend events, the NHL showed they simply don’t care they have a player running around elbowing people in the head.
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It’s important to note the elbow to Johansson’s head was no accident and given the Bruins forward’s history, he certainly doesn’t deserve the benefit of the doubt even if it was. Marchand raised his elbow when he didn’t need to and struck Johansson despite there only being less than two minutes remaining in the game.
This wasn’t a situation where a player lowered his head or fell at the last second putting himself in a vulnerable position. It was a situation where an opposing player clearly went head hunting and there is absolutely no excuse for it.
Having Marchand attend All-Star weekend created a dark cloud over his head considering Johansson was sitting at home with a concussion. While one player is honored for hurting another, the victim’s timetable for a return is unknown. It would not have been hard to remove Marchand given his suspension and replace him with another player.
The Atlantic Division team were even short a defenseman after Victor Hedman was replaced by his teammate and forward Brayden Point. It would have been easy to replace Marchand with his defenseman teammate Zdeno Chara, thus matching the forward and defense numbers of the other three teams. Chara has found the fountain of youth this season and is known for his hardest shot competition reputation. Although he likely enjoyed the weekend of rest, his amazing career could have been celebrated one more time in what could be his last season.
To make matters worse for Marchand, ever since the 2016 World Cup Marchand had done a lot to re-shape his pest image. Prior to the World Cup, he was viewed as an agitator who could only contribute by getting underneath the opposition’s skin. However, after the offensive display Marchand put on at the World Cup while playing on a line with Sidney Crosby, many began to see just how talented Marchand truly is.
Marchand would follow up his World Cup performance with a career year of 85 points during the 2016-17 season, shattering his previous high of 61 points. To begin the 2017-18 season, Marchand was well on his way to another great year posting 50 points in only 38 games.
Marchand will be 30-years old in May and as a veteran of nine seasons, he should be at the stage of his career where he is beyond these pathetic suspensions. He’s not only hurt himself but he’s also hurt the Bruins. Boston has endured a revolving door of injuries all season long and has still performed remarkably. However, an incident like Marchand’s suspensions is the exact type of thing that could derail all the momentum the Bruins have created.
Regardless of if Marchand grows up or not, he had no business being at a celebration for the league while Johansson was at home with a concussion. It sends the wrong message to everybody from the fans, to future player suspensions, to players concerned about their own safety. It was an easily avoidable situation, especially since it’s unlikely many bought tickets to the festivities to see Marchand in the first place.