Don’t worry, the NHL can still find a way to show its ass even with the NBA having a showcase event. On the same day that Tom Wilson was suspended for braining Boston’s Brandon Carlo into the boards with a cheap shot, Brad Marchand couldn’t be upstaged. And this is the same Brad Marchand who openly bitched about Wilson’s hit:
In some ways, Marchand’s action is worse. This isn’t even during play, and can’t even be disguised as something that’s beneficial or within the rules of the game. He’s not doing anything here other than being a danger to a fellow worker, and there’s no question that it’s aimed at the head. And it’s even more chickenshit than Wilson’s. But Marchand has made a whole career out of pulling chickenshit acts like this. This can’t be labeled as anything other than an attempt to injure, and yet Marchand probably won’t even face a fine.
The Blackhawks’ Connor Murphy got in on the fun too, though at least he was penalized and will face discipline from the league. Again, this is a cheap shot at a player who isn’t looking, and isn’t even around the puck, by the time Murphy gets there.
The league needs to stop players from licking their chops at moments when an opponent isn’t looking, as if it were a chance to get on SportsCenter. Even the NFL doesn’t allow this. Sure, there are moments when a player gets a puck caught between his feet or simply isn’t paying attention, and you’ll never be able to get that out of the game. But the league has to stop using that as cover for all the hits on players who are preoccupied by something else. This is how careers get altered or ended.
Cernak had the puck here, but Murphy clearly goes for the home run shot here when that’s not necessary. He’s already so much bigger, and merely standing still would separate Cernak from the puck, which is the idea of body checks in the first place. Hits shouldn’t be meant to hurt, but serve the game.
Otherwise, the league will one day have to look at getting rid of hitting altogether. Is that what it really wants?