The amount of games was a bit of a surprise given the fact Marchand hasn’t been suspended in nearly four years, has cleaned up his game, and Ekman-Larsson was not hurt on the play. Still, Marchand’s reputation was enough for the NHL Department of Player Safety to make a statement.
Patrice Bergeron defended his teammate Tuesday while still showing respect to the ones who have to make the call.
“I’ll start with this, I respect their decision, it’s not an easy job by any means. Player safety, whatever decision they come up with someone’s always unhappy, right?,” Bergeron told reporters. “That’s just how it goes, so I respect that part of it. Was I surprised? Yes. I thought three games is a lot. We’ve seen some plays this year that was warranted lesser sentence, I don’t know if sentence is the right word, a lesser suspension or not even a suspension for the Subban incident and (Kevin) Labanc was one game.
“Let’s remember that Marchy’s been close to four years now without any suspension, and in that time frame he’s become one of the best players in the league, an elite player, a leader. That’s what we have to remember. Not what happened before. I agree some things needed to change and I think he made those changes.
“He plays his heart out every night. That’s the way he plays. He’s competitive, he wants to win every puck battle. Does he get into it at times? Probably. Has he crossed the line lately? I don’t think so. He’s been playing at an elite level and he’s grown as a leader dramatically.”