The Boston Bruins say they are on board with Brendan Shanahan's efforts to police the NHL, but they learned Monday night they won't always see eye to eye with the league's director of player safety.
Shanahan's decision to suspend Bruins forward Brad Marchand five games for clipping Vancouver's Sami Salo in a hotly contested Stanley Cup rematch over the weekend drew a swift response from Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli. Less than an hour after it was announced, Chiarelli issued a statement that made it clear he was "very disappointed."
"While we understand that the department of safety is an evolving entity, it is frustrating that there are clear comparable situations that have not been penalized or sanctioned in the past," he said. "It is equally disappointing that Brad sought the counsel of the department this past fall for an explanation and clarification regarding this type of scenario so as to adjust his game if necessary.
"He was advised that such an incident was not sanctionable if he was protecting his own safety."
Shanahan addressed that claim directly in his video explanation of the event, claiming Marchand committed a "predatory" act by going low to flip the Canucks defenceman. Salo suffered a concussion on the play.
The two players had bumped along the boards about 15 seconds before Marchand curled around, skated past the puck and hammered Salo.
"While we understand that in certain circumstances a player may duck or bail instinctively in order to protect himself from an imminent, dangerous check, we do not view this play as defensive or instinctive," said Shanahan.
"Further, Salo is not coming at Marchand with great speed nor in a threatening posture," he added. "He does nothing to indicate that Marchand is about to be hit illegally or with excessive force. To be clear, we do not consider this to be a defensive act where there were no other options available to Marchand."
Another important factor in the decision was the fact Marchand is considered a repeat offender. He was suspended two games in March 2011 for an elbow on R.J. Umberger and fined US$2,500 earlier this season for a slew foot.
The Bruins agitator was a thorn in Vancouver's side during the Stanley Cup final last season and will forfeit $152,439.02 in salary. He is eligible to return on Jan. 19 when Boston visits the Devils.
There is still plenty of bad blood between teams that won't meet again this season unless they both advance to the championship series. Canucks coach Alain Vigneault and Bruins coach Claude Julien have been exchanging words in the media since Saturday's game, a 4-3 victory by Vancouver.
After Vigneault said Sunday that some day Marchand's "going to get it," Julien responded Monday morning.
"The comments made about our player, I don't like that," said Julien. "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."