I've wanted to write this blog for a week or so now, but I decided I would wait. I wanted to hold off until all the outrage and annoyed pique of commentators and NHL regulars after the most recent newsmaking by a cocky rookie had run their course.
Amazingly, I'm not talking P.K.Subban in this case. I'm talking about Brad Marchand. Last Tuesday, before the fateful game in which Zdeno Chara nearly killed Max Pacioretty, Marchand said in reference to the Habs: “They like to get in and shoot their mouths off and then when you hit them they’ll dive down and fall easy,” and “They stir the pot, and they got what they deserved . . . whatever anyone’s mad about, they can suck it up, it’s not our fault."
Interesting. A raw rookie, who, if most of them graduated from high school in junior hockey, would have had "most likely to be suspended" pencilled beside his mugshot in the yearbook, feels within his first-year rights to slag NHL Cup winners and thousand-game veterans.
Just imagine for one moment if it had been Subban who had uttered those statements about the Bruins or the Penguins. Got it in your head? Yeah. The spittle of the overheated and outraged critics would be flying as they outshouted each other to express their disapproval. The words "disrespectful," "cocky" and "arrogant" would be more overused than Roman Hamrlik. Yet, in the case of Marchand, there's silence from the peanut gallery.
Now recall Joffrey Lupul's comments about Subban "jumping" him in a fight last month. Both players had agreed to drop the gloves, and Lupul skated toward Subban, who punched him. Lupul cried foul because he hadn't had time to remove his helmet, even though he'd approached Subban first. Video of the "incident" and Lupul's comments, giving Subban the "benefit of the doubt...this time" aired on every TV sports show ad nauseum.
The night before last, Marchand, before the eyes of all 30 NHL GMs gathered in Boca to discuss head shots, skated up behind R.J.Umberger and nailed him in the head with an elbow. The incident got a quick mention on TSN, after a long discussion of the leafs playoff chances and the GM's review of spineramas during the shootout. It aired behind footage of Dany Heatley throwing an elbow at Steve Ott.
Does anyone think, for one moment, that if that had been Subban, that hit wouldn't have lead every sportscast? Of course it would have. And it would have been followed by a smug panel discussion between reporters and former pros who'd have shaken their heads and bemoaned the lack of respect displayed by that brash rookie in Montreal. Yet Marchand's hit is barely mentioned.
It doesn't make much sense. Why would there be such intolerance for Subban and everything he does, while another team's rookie who's no less (and, one could argue, more of) an on-ice agitator gets a free pass from the critics? Subban speaks with intelligence and humility, and gets blasted for celebrating a goal the wrong way. Marchand talks about an opponent with scorn and mockery and the critics gleefully broadcast his quotes.
We must conclude there is actually that much hatred for the Habs out there. The Candiens have won so much and held themselves above the rest of the league for so long, historically, that opponents are bitter. That must be it, right? Why else would Subban draw the ire of the league, while Marchand gets a pass?
Then again, maybe Marchand will be put in his place by the righteous critics. I guess we'll have to wait and see.