BOSTON – It looks like this time Brad Marchand will be given the benefit of the doubt from the NHL’s long arm of the law.
Marchand was whistled for interference after colliding violently with Chicago forward Anthony Duclair in the first period of Boston’s 7-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks at TD Garden on Saturday afternoon, and Duclair was helped off the ice with an apparent right knee injury.
The sense following the game was that the NHL Department of Player Safety was viewing the collision as accidental rather than intentional, and as such doesn’t hand out supplementary discipline for things that happen by accident. So in essence Marchand was in the clear in this particular incident just a day after paying a $2,000 fine for embellishment, and just a couple of months removed from a five-game suspension for a check to the net of New Jersey’s Marcus Johansson.
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After the game, Marchand said both players simply couldn’t get out of the way of one another, and that there was no intent on his part to do anything untoward.
“I was coming up ice and I think he was coming down the fore-check and we both got caught in the train tracks and we both didn’t know which direction to go, but we just kind of tried to avoid each other,” said Marchand, who posted a couple of assists in the win over the Blackhawks. “I think it’s really unfortunate, I think he twisted up his foot or something, that’s tough to see.
I think it’s pretty clear that I was trying to get out of the way, that he was trying to get out of the way. You know, it’s tough. Things like that happen in hockey. You never want to see a guy get hurt, but we were trying to avoid each other.”
Some Blackhawks players weren’t quite so sure it was accidental after the game given Marchand’s track record of six suspensions and eight guilty verdicts of supplemental discipline from the league.
“I think it was a dirty play,” said Chicago defenseman Erik Gustafsson. “I think Marchand sees him coming and I don’t know how if he does it on purpose or not, but he gets stuck and Duclair gets stuck, got his feet stuck in the ice. It looked pretty bad.”
Marchand had turned to go up ice and a split-second later was directly in the “train tracks” with Duclair, and instinctively raised his arm and tried to jump over the Chicago forward to avoid contact with him.
Instead Marchand caught Duclair with his right arm acting like a clothes-line of sorts, and the Chicago forward had his right leg bend awkwardly behind as he crashed to the ice. It was clear that he hyper-extended his knee on the play, and Marchand was served with a two-minute penalty on a play that looked accidental in nature.