Brad Marchand suspended for rest of regular season after spearing opponent in groin
The Boston Bruins will be without their leading goal scorer for the final games of the regular season, as the NHL's Department of Player Safety announced on Thursday afternoon that Brad Marchand would receive a two-game ban for spearing Tampa Bay's Jake Dotchin in the groin earlier this week. The disciplinary ruling is a crucial one for a number of reasons.
First and foremost, the Bruins will have to forge on without Marchand — one of their best and most consistent players all season — as they jockey for playoff positioning in the East's playoff picture. How well the Bruins play in their final two games could make the difference between a first-round matchup against league powerhouse in the Capitals, or a more favorable matchup against the Ottawa Senators or Toronto Maple Leafs.
The two-game ban is also notable because the league doesn't typically suspend for most spearing incidents, even when they're delivered to a cheap area like the groin. (Milan Lucic and Steve Ott have received fines for similar incidents in years past, and Sidney Crosby received no punishment for delivering a whack to Ryan O'Reilly's undercarriage just days before the Marchand incident.)
In this case, it appears Marchand's lengthy history of dirty plays finally came back to bite him. In the league's video announcing the suspension, it was explained that "intent, amount of force used, and Marchand's substantial history of attacking the lower-body of unsuspecting opponents" factored into the decision. "Players who repeatedly violate league playing rules will be more severely punished for each new violation."
Not only will Marchand miss two crucial games to close out the season, but he'll also end his 2016-2017 campaign with 39 goals to his name. He has yet to reach 40 in his career. On the bright side, he'll have a week to rest up for the playoffs.