Brad Marchand has found his way into the disciplinary headlines several times this season already. He ended up on the victim side of things again in a Saturday contest against Vancouver. Brandon Prust tried to limit future growth of the Marchand family tree and earned himself a $5,000 fine. He was given a 10 minute misconduct in the moment, not so much because of any initial opinion on the incident but because none of the 4 man officiating crew even saw it, and no wonder. It was well away from any action and came without warning in a moment where it wasn’t expected at all. This makes the NHL department of player safety decision to only fine Prust that much more difficult to understand.
Something this dangerous that has nothing to do with a hockey play, wasn’t done in the heat of the moment, and was clearly a controlled and intentional action should deserve more than a fine. It also comes in a 4-0 game where the play served no strategical purpose. As I stated in a post of the role of the Department of Player Safety, they aren’t there to give the appropriate level of punishment for the crime. In my mind they should be giving the appropriate punishment for how important they feel it is to discourage the type of behaviour being reviewed.
The most common reasons they give for not suspending a player or at the most giving a reduced suspension are usually either that there was no intent, that the victim made some action just prior to the contact that made it worse, or that there was an adequate penalty already assessed by the on ice official. None of those things apply in this case. Using Brad Marchand as an example, earlier this year he was the victim of a questionable hit to the head. He got up and sought out his attacker and sucker punched him in the face. Landeskog(who had hit him) was given two games and Marchand was docked the magic $5,000 number. I’ve already given my thoughts on the suspension to Landeskog for that hit but didn’t address the fine. My opinion is that the fine was a good statement. There was no need to have Marchand lose any games because what he did wasn’t really a big deal, but it was important in my mind to discourage any other player in the future. The issue isn’t even the act of the punch really, but more the act of seeking out Landeskog at all. The fine didn’t only represent what Marchand DID do, but what he MIGHT HAVE DONE. Now someone will think twice about it because the league gave a warning to everyone with that fine that retaliation is going to be looked at.
Looking again now at the Prust spear, is driving the blade of your stick into the groin of a player who’s done nothing and isn’t even looking the equivalent of skating up to a guy who’s just thrown a massive body check, is being chased by others already, looking him in the eye and then using a gloved hand to punch him in the nose?
I know which one I’d want to discourage more.
Verdict: this was a two game spear. Prust’s comments about it being the best $5,000.00 he ever spent are a testament to how little message this particular fine sent and he should be fined again for his league belittling statements to the press.