NASHVILLE - Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand was suspended two games by the NHL for an elbow to the head of Columbus Blue Jackets centre R.J. Umberger.
"Any time there's a head shot right now, with the amount of concussions and how they're trying to get that out of the game, there's going to be a reaction to it," Marchand said after the morning skate in Nashville to prepare for Thursday night's game against the Predators. "And that's what happened."
Marchand approached Umberger from behind and struck him in the neck and side of his head during the second period of Boston's 3-2 victory Tuesday. No penalty was given on the play, but he was given a hearing by the league during a conference call on Wednesday and the penalty was announced on Thursday.
"I understand where the league's coming from," Marchand said. "They really want to crack down on head hits right now. Obviously, I'm disappointed to have to miss a couple games. It's always frustrating when you have to watch your team play. But I understand why. And the biggest thing now is you have to regroup and make sure I'm ready for when I can get back in action."
He will forfeit US$6,330.64 in salary and be eligible to return March 22 against New Jersey.
"You go out there and you can't let it change your game," Marchand said. "There's always going to be hits to the head, especially with how fast guys are, and how big and strong they are, and how physical guys are. It's always going to be there. The biggest thing is that you can't be taking cheap shots. I think that's where you've got to draw the line."
Marchand said he watched the tape a couple of times and acknowledged that he hit Umberger in the head, but said he wasn't aiming high or trying to injure anyone.
"I did get him in the head," he said. "That wasn't my intention. I was just trying to make contact. That stuff happens in hockey. It's a rough sport. Sometimes that happens, and you have to live with it."