if the NHL has actually expressed its displeasure about Brad Marchand getting a little too touchy, feely on the ice in the playoffs, they might want to actually do it directly to the player involved.
Marchand said in a Friday morning text to NBCSportsBoston.com the NHL never contacted him about his Game 1 licking incident with Leo Komarov and certainly didn’t tell him to cease and desist.
“No one said anything to me,” said Marchand in a Friday morning text to NBCSportsBoston.com. “If they are worried about that the league has much bigger issues. If they call, it’s a perfect example of the Toronto media controlling the league.”
Per a report from Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, the Bruins received a call from the league after Game 1 of the first round series with the Maple Leafs requesting Boston’s management to relay a message to Marchand that “we’d prefer if you could tell Brad Marchand to stop licking people.” The NHL request was reportedly relayed, of course, after Marchand appeared to lick - or deeply sniff - Leo Komarov in front of the benches in Boston’s one-sided 5-1 win in the opening game of the best-of-seven series at TD Garden.
Marchand also took to Twitter to refute reports of an NHL stop-the-licking request.
This is false— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) April 27, 2018
The incident arrived after Marchand had kissed the hard-hitting Komarov on the cheek in a regular-season meeting between the Bruins and the Leafs and was clearly about getting in the Toronto forward’s head as he was harassing No. 63 before, during and after whistles early in the series. Marchand admitted after the game he was just trying to find a way to get Komarov to leave him alone instead of trying to goad him into taking penalties, but he also had a little fun with it as well.
"I thought he wanted to cuddle," said Marchand after Game 1. "I was just trying to get close to him. He kept coming after me after whistles, so I thought if he wanted to keep touching me then we were going to get a little closer than he may want to.”
It would certainly be a lot easier for the NHL to send out an informal cease and desist phone call to the Bruins for any on-ice licking of opponents rather than going to the trouble of legislating NHL laws in the rulebooks about licking, nuzzling, smooching or any other public displays of affection that could be weaponized against an unsuspecting opponent by Boston’s Nose Face Killah. But the bottom line is that this is the Stanley Cup playoffs where everybody is looking for an edge, there are no rules strictly prohibiting what Marchand was doing and he maintains that nobody from the NHL has said boo to him about it.
Whatever actually happened in this instance, don’t expect to see any of that kind of stuff between Marchand and any members of the Tampa Bay Lightning when that second-round series opens up Saturday afternoon with a spot in the Eastern Conference Final on the line.