While I know I’ve made a typo or two as of late, I can assure you that the following sentence is 100 percent correct:
The NHL has warned Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand to stop licking people.
Marchand’s team is down three games to one to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs. And his Bruins are now without Torey Krug, who will sit the rest of the series against Tampa at least.
But the story of this series seems to be Marchand’s tactic, which was employed in Game Four of the Eastern Conference semi-final against Tampa forward Ryan Callahan. The licking in question took place during a stoppage in place, with Marchand definitely making tongue-to-cheek contact with the Lightning player.
The Bruin has been down this road before, as he licked Toronto forward Leo Komarov on the neck in Game One of their first round series. (For the record, Marchand also kissed Komarov on November 11).
And after that incident, the league contacted the Bruins in an attempt to get Marchand to keep his tongue inside his mouth. It obviously didn’t take, what with Callahan the latest victim of a tongue-lashing.
“It’s unfortunate that he goes that low to do that, but doesn’t take us off our game,” Callahan said. “Hopefully, the league looks at it. I don’t know if there is discipline for spitting in someone’s face, but to me it’s worse, if not the same.”
There is no discipline for spitting in someone’s face or licking, says the NHL, but that doesn’t mean Marchand won’t face any sort of discipline. At this point, it appears that the league’s internal confusion about exactly what to call this is getting in the way.
There’s no question that there’s no place in the NHL game for unwanted licking and there seems little doubt that there must be some kind of apparatus within the existing rulebook to mete out discipline, perhaps in the arena of unsportsmanlike conduct. Two minutes for licking may not be far off the mark, at least to start with.
“All I’m going to say is there’s absolutely no place in our game for that,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper. “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t. How would you feel if I walked over to you right now and just gave you one big lick right from the chin all the way up?”
Now there’s a question.