NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has upheld Brad Marchand‘s six-game suspension for roughing and high-sticking Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry after the Boston Bruins forward appealed.
The incident occurred during the Bruins’ 4-2 loss to the Penguins on Feb. 8, when Marchand punched Jarry to the head after the whistle was blown. Marchand subsequently hit the Pittsburgh netminder’s head a second time with his stick, after which he was given a game misconduct penalty.
The NHL’s department of player safety said it determined the six-game suspension length by considering Marchand had previously been suspended and fined on several occasions. According to the NHL collective bargaining agreement, players who repeatedly violate league rules will be more severely punished on each occasion. Marchand then appealed the decision through the NHLPA.
Bettman heard Marchand’s appeal on Wednesday, calling Marchand “forthright and sincere in expressing remorse for his conduct, which he did not attempt to defend and which he acknowledged was ‘stupid,'” adding that the sole reason for the appeal was the length of the suspension.
In the appeal, the NHLPA referred to similar previous infractions that did not receive the same length of penalty, including Milan Lucic’s two-game suspension in 2019 for punching Kole Sherwood and Radko Gudas’s two-game suspension for high sticking Nikita Kucherov in 2019, among others.
However, Bettman cited that each case must be decided on the “basis of its own particular facts and circumstances” under the CBA, and determined that:
• Marchand’s conduct was intentional and involved excessive and unnecessary use of force.
• Marchand’s conduct featured not one, but two violations of NHL playing rules
• Beyond being a repeat offender, Marchand has been suspended eight times and fined four. The NHL department of player safety also suspended him three games just 21 games ago for slew-footing.
“Mr. Marchand’s behavior and lack of judgment in respect of these incidents did not meet acceptable NHL standards. He created a distraction which reflected poorly on himself, on his team and on the League as a whole, and as such, I find he also deserves the penalty he received. Having said that, I encourage Mr. Marchand to reflect on this experience and to use it positively in furtherance of his efforts to refine and improve his on-ice image and game for everyone’s benefit,” Bettman concluded in his ruling, which can be read in its entirety here.
Marchand spoke publicly of the incident nearly 48 hours after receiving the initial suspension, recognizing that he should not have committed the act, but questioning the length of his penalty.
“Of course it was stupid,” Marchand said. “I’m not denying that. I absolutely should not have done it. But suspension-worthy? I don’t think so.
“These plays were not going to injure Jarry. No potential injury on that play. He was very well protected. The fact that it’s six games is based on history, not on the play.”