BOSTON — Brad Marchand didn't have his hearing with NHL dean of discipline Brendan Shanahan until 12:30 p.m. on Monday, but the Vancouver Canucks did their best to have him found guilty in the court of public opinion long before the Bruins forward got on the phone with Shanahan.
Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis called Marchand's hit on Canucks defenseman Sami Salo "a dirty hit by a dirty player," while Canucks coach Alain Vigneault went even further in attacking Marchand's character, even insinuating that retribution will come to Marchand on the ice if the league doesn't punish him severely enough.
"Some day, he's going to get it," Vigneault told the Vancouver Province. "Somebody is going to say enough is enough and they're going to hurt the kid, because he plays to hurt players and in my mind if the league doesn't take care of it, somebody else will."
That didn't sit well with the Bruins, and Monday before the hearing, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli fired back as he addressed the club's beat writers following practice at the Garden.
"I would like to respond in the spirit of protecting our player," Chiarelli said. "The comments made about our player, I don't like that. Brad does play on the edge, but he's no dirtier than maybe two or three of their players. I think in general after a game like that you see all the high-handed propaganda and I just feel the need to respond."
Chiarelli felt the comments by Gillis and Vigneault were an obvious ploy to try to influence the league's decision in handing out supplemental discipline on Marchand.
"I don't like to hear that kind of stuff," Chiarelli said. "Certainly I think there's a lobbying element to it. I think the league does a real good job in these hearings, and I don't think it's necessary to have that out there.
"I like the league to take care of these things," Chiarelli added. "I don't think you have to plead them out in public, but when they talk about our players I feel the need to respond."
Bruins coach Claude Julien also felt the need to respond, particularly to the denigrating remarks Vigneault directed toward Julien. Vigneault said Sunday of Julien's defense of Marchand for trying to protect himself on the play: "That's a stupid comment."
Julien had a different adjective to use for Vigneault's quotes.
"I think it's pretty hypocritical everything that's been going on," Julien said. "It's unfortunate because sometimes you've got to look in your own backyard. We all know he's got the same types of players on his team and they've all done the same thing. I look at [Alex] Burrows putting his blade in [Shawn] Thornton's throat. It's so hypocritical. It's unfortunate. I guess we're stupid, we're idiots and they're the smartest team in the league. I guess we need to listen to all the gab they have to say."
Several Vancouver players also criticized Marchand, including defenseman Keith Ballard, who has made his reputation delivering very similar hip checks.
"Normally when I do that, the guy has the puck and the guy is coming down on me and trying to beat me," Ballard said of his hip checks. "There is a difference and anybody who says there's not a difference is an idiot."
Ballard must not think too highly of the intelligence of the Harvard-educated Chiarelli then, as the Bruins GM took issue with Ballard's contention.
"With respect to some of the comments from a player regarding what's a hip check and what's clipping and all that stuff, I think that's naive too," Chiarelli said. "What makes a difference if you have the puck or if you don't on a hip check? To say that there's a distinction, there's not. And that player actually, he's notorious for that stuff, with or without the puck."
But it was Vigneault's threat to Marchand's future safety and well-being that upset the Bruins the most, especially considering it was coming from the coach of a franchise already responsible for arguably the blackest mark on hockey's record. The Canucks threatened retribution once before, and Todd Bertuzzi followed through with an attack that ended Colorado forward Steve Moore's career in 2004 in a case that remains pending in civil court.
"I think we've learned our lesson over time that that is a real inappropriate comment, a real inappropriate comment and an unprofessional comment," Chiarelli said of Vigneault remark.
Julien agreed. "We all know that comment's been said before, and it didn't turn out well, so we'll leave it at that."
Just as the Bruins would have preferred leaving this matter to the league rather than being forced to respond to the Canucks' public comments and threats.
"The lobbying, the — I call it propaganda — that comes out [Sunday] in advance of the hearing, I think it's distasteful," Chiarelli said.
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