Brad Marchand (Getty Images)
Brad Marchand's low hit on Mark Borowiecki resulted in a three-game ban from the NHL. Marchand will sit out the Winter Classic, barring an appeal.
Boston Bruins left winger Brad Marchand was all but guaranteed a multi-game suspension for his hit Dec. 29 on Ottawa Senators defenseman Mark Borowiecki. The NHL Department of Player Safety made it official following a phone hearing with Marchand Wednesday, suspending him three games, one of which will be the Jan. 1 Winter Classic, hosted by his own team at Gillette Stadium.
Marchand had far too many strikes against him to escape discipline. For one, the hit itself was obvious cause for suspension. As outlined in the DOPS' explanatory video, Borowiecki was not eligible to be checked on the play, as he wasn't engaged with the puck. Marchand took a clear, deliberate and unnecessary route to hit Borowiecki, and the collision itself, in which Marchand got low to upend Borowiecki at the legs, was a clear case of clipping.
Once the league decided the hit was worthy of supplemental discipline, Marchand's past history factored into the sentencing. Being a repeat offender can't get a player suspended again on its own, but it can make his punishment more severe once the league decides a given play is suspension-worthy, and that's what happened to Marchand. He's been suspended three times (this one makes it four) and fined twice. His previous bans were for slew footing, clipping and slew footing. The league considered him a repeat offender because the latter infraction happened in the past 18 months and because he has repeatedly earned discipline for dangerously low hits. Here's the full explanatory video from the NHL:
As player safety vice-president Damian Echevarrieta explained when I visited the league office last winter, the league's primary goal is to change player behaviour. It's clear Marchand was not learning. The same logic applied to suspending Raffi Torres earlier this year. Marchand will thus have to be extremely careful for the foreseeable future. Another similar offense would incur significant wrath from the NHL, just as Torres did.
If anything, Marchand got off easy at three games. The only thing that saved him from a longer sentence was that Borowiecki remained in the game. Had he left with an injury, that would've factored into Marchand's sentence, per the collective bargaining agreement.
Marchand will be rendered a spectator for the Winter Classic unless he's able to launch an appeal and have it approved by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman before the game. With a suspension of fewer than six games, only Bettman can preside over an appeal.
Matt Larkin is an associate editor at The Hockey News and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Matt Larkin on Twitter at @THNMattLarkin