The NHL’s Department of Player of Safety is supposed to teach players lessons and keep them from repeating dangerous behavior. However, it’s clear that supplemental discipline doesn’t always lead to improved behavior and etiquette on the ice.
The latest example of that came Wednesday in New Jersey. Late in the second period of the Bruins’ 5-4 win over the Devils, Boston forward Brad Marchand was caught by an elbow from Anton Volchenkov. The hit, which seemed to focus on Marchand’s head as the principle point of contact, left Marchand on the ice for a few moments. He had to be helped off the ice and down the tunnel to the dressing room. He did not return to the game.
See the hit below.
It was a scary hit and it served as a reminder of how dangerous hits to the head can be. The Bruins are no strangers to that. Patrice Bergeron remains out with the fourth concussion of his career, and Marc Savard reminded us all that he may never play again as he continues to battle concussion issues. While Marchand’s status is unknown, it’s obviously difficult not to expect the worst at this point.
Even if Marchand is lucky enough to survive the hit with nothing more than a headache (a big “if” judging by what Marchand looked like as he struggled to get back to his feet), the NHL has to come down on Volchenkov.
It was a reckless, careless hit from a guy who should have known better. His hit on Marchand is really as textbook as it gets. First and foremost, it’s not the first time he’s done something like this. Volchenkov was suspended for three games in 2011 when he delivered a blind-sided elbow to the head of Zach Boychuk.
This is what that looked like:
“”It’s tough,” Volchenkov pleaded after that suspension.”But the rules are the rules. But at the same time I didn’t really try to hit him [in the head]. It was an accident. An accident for both of us.”
He appeared to make a similar plea in the seconds after delivering the hit to Marchand. He immediately turned around, apparently to plead his innocence, but it instead came off as looking like a child who had just been caught with his hand in the cookie jar. He didn’t necessarily look like a rehabilitated man.
It’s a dirty and dangerous hit. The principle point of contact was Marchand’s head. While Marchand will never be the biggest guy on the ice, far from it at just 5-foot-9, it was pretty clear to see that Volchenkov extended his elbow just as he went to deliver the hit. He caught Marchand flush in the head. Marchand didn’t really move into it, either. If anything he rotated his head, which kept his head the principle point of contact, albeit it a different part.
While Marchand’s head is a little lower than normal as Volchenkov skates up to him, there’s no denying he extends his arm into the head of Marchand.
There’s really no way to defend it. It’s pretty clean-cut. It’s a repeat offender who targeted the head and left the receiver of the hit injured. Check, check and check.
Volchenkov can expect at least a phone call from Brendan Shanahan‘s office. Hopefully this time around the New Jersey defenseman learns his lesson.
UPDATE: Anton Volchenkov has been suspended four games. Read more by clicking here.