Marchand licked Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan on the face during Game 4 of their second-round playoff series Friday night, having previously treated Toronto Maple Leafs centre Leo Komarov to an unsolicited lick during Game 1 of their first round series.
Contrary to some reports, the NHL did not step in after the Komarov incident, but has done so now.
On Saturday, Marchand received a tongue-lashing from the NHL’s senior VP of hockey operations Colin Campbell, who warned him in no uncertain terms that he will be punished if he continues to lick up controversy.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper took issue with the Halifax-born Marchand’s methods, appearing completely befuddled at the post-game press conference.
“All I’m going to say is there’s absolutely no place in our game for that,” Cooper said, sighing and shaking his head. “It’s… I don’t think… I don’t understand it… it’s just… how would you feel if I walked over to you right now and gave you one big lick, right from the chin all the way up? There’s just no place in the game for that.”
Lick recipient Callahan opined post-game that licking is comparable to spitting and should be punished accordingly, but Marchand’s reaction suggested he wasn’t feeling apologetic:
That Marchand has a taste for instigation is no secret, and he was famously labelled a “Little Ball of Hate” by none other than former U.S. President Barack Obama, when the then-Stanley Cup champion Bruins visited the White House in 2012.
His history of getting overly amorous with opponents includes this attempt to kiss Dallas Stars forward Patrick Eaves in 2016…
… as well as this kiss on the cheek of the Leafs’ Komarov in November 2017.
Marchand’s curious tactic has set tongues wagging among the NHL, with several players offering their take on how they might react if treated to a Marchand special.
Winnipeg Jets forward Adam Lowry said he’d likely opt for a punch, while Nashville Predators defenseman P.K. Subban said he found the move funny, albeit only from a distance.
“It would kind of be funny, but in the moment it probably wouldn’t be very funny,” said Subban.
Game 5 between the Bruins and the Lightning takes place at the Amalia Arena in Tampa, Fla. on Sunday afternoon. The game could potentially represent Marchand’s last bite of NHL action this season, with the Bruins 3-1 down and one defeat away from elimination.
— With a file from the Associated Press