When Brad Marchand treated Jake Dotchin’s penis like a piñata late in the first period of Tuesday’s playoff-clinching win, there were two reactions:
1. HOW COME NOTHING HAPPENED WHEN CROSBY DID IT?
2. HE WENT AND GOT HIMSELF SUSPENDED RIGHT BEFORE (AND POSSIBLY INTO) THE PLAYOFFS!
Shut up about the first thing. Breaking news: Sidney Crosby is usually going to get a pass because he’s Sidney Crosby.
But on that second thing: Yes, Marchand will be punished, but recent history says any suspension won’t be long if he gets one at all.
There have been no suspensions in the NHL for spears to the groin since at least the 2008-09 season, and possibly longer; 2008-09 is the earliest that suspension logs are readily available.
This isn’t for lack of spears to the groin. It happens somewhat often in the NHL. Brandon Prust did it to Marchand last season. Steve Ott did it to Zdeno Chara this season. Milan Lucic did it to Danny DeKeyser back in 2014. Scott Hartnell got Brett Bellemore late in that regular season. Stephen Gionta did it to Mark Borowiecki last season. The list goes on and on.
Know what all those guys got? Fines. None of them were suspended, and those were the guys who got punished at all.
We don’t need to worry about whether Marchand will fall into Crosby’s category. He was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for his spear on Tuesday, and his status as a repeat offender (suspended in December of of 2015 for clipping Borowiecki) makes it a near certainty that the league is going to give him something.
Yet if it’s anything significant, it would buck the trend. The NHL looks the other way on these infractions and I will one thousand percent never understand why. Hockey loves patting itself on the back for its toughness, but I’m not sure why you’d want to be the “we hit each other in the nuts” sport.
Despite this generally not being a suspendible act, one game wouldn’t be a big surprise solely because it’s Marchand. Two games would give the NHL the opportunity to puff out its chest and declare it’s suspended Marchand “for the rest of the regular season.”
But three games? Four? Five? That would be unprecedented in this day in age. No matter how dirty a reputation Marchand has, it would be a big stretch for something to consistently be finable for every other player and then worthy of a lengthy ban for another. Being a repeat offender can only do so much.