Given the widespread anticipation, a punishment seemed like a foregone conclusion in the case of the NHL’s decision on whether or not to suspend Brad Marchand for his hit on Canucks defenseman Sami Salo.
But some, including Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, were taken aback when league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan declared that the Black and Gold would be without the winger for the next five games.
Marchand was handed a hefty suspension on Monday night and won’t be eligible to return until Jan. 19 when the Bruins take on the Devils. The 5-foot-9 forward, who was given a two-game ban back in March, will forfeit $152,439 for clipping the Vancouver blueliner on Saturday afternoon.
“While we respect the process that the Department of Player Safety took to reach their decision regarding Brad’s hit on Sami Salo, we are very disappointed by their ruling,” Chiarelli said in a statement released by the club. “We understand that the Department of Safety is an evolving entity, it is frustrating that there are clear comparable situations that have not been penalized or sanctioned in the past.”
In his video explaining the decision, Shanahan deemed that the hit was a predatory move and refused to give the Bruins the benefit of the doubt that Marchand was simply trying to protect himself on the play.
Chiarelli, however, insists that the 23-year-old forward voluntarily asked for clarification on such hits before the start of the season and was led to believe they weren’t illegal.
"It is equally disappointing that Brad sought the counsel of the Department this past Fall for an explanation and clarification regarding this type of scenario so as to adjust his game if necessary,” Chiarelli said. “He was advised that such an incident was not sanctionable if he was protecting his own safety.
“Given our feeling that Brad was indeed protecting himself and certainly did not clip the player as he contacted the player nowhere near the knee or quadricep, today’s ruling is not consistent with what the Department of Player Safety communicated to Brad."
The B’s will begin their five-game stretch sans No. 63 in the lineup on Tuesday when they welcome the Winnipeg Jets to TD Garden.