An NHL hockey player is causing controversy by licking his opponents during games.
Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand, 29, was caught on camera licking the face of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on May 4.
After the game, Callahan told reporters, “I don’t know what the difference is between that and spitting in someone’s face. I hope the league looks at it. I don’t know if there is discipline for spitting in someone’s face. But for me it’s worse, if not the same.”
When reporters told Marchand what Callahan had said, Marchand laughed and said, “That’s cute. Good for him.”
This is the second time this postseason Marchand has licked an opponent during a game. The first occurrence was on April 12, when he licked the neck of Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov.
When asked after the game why he licked Komarov, Marchand defended himself by saying, “Well, he punched me four times, so…”
This is not the first time Marchand has behaved inappropriately toward Komarov on the ice. During a confrontation in a game on November 11, 2017, Marchand kissed Komarov on the cheek.
After the game, Komarov was asked about Marchand’s attempt “to get under [his] skin” and if it bothered him. Komarov said no and joked, “I kind of liked it.”
Marchand received no penalties for the kiss, but now that he has begun licking opponents, the NHL has put Marchand on notice, releasing a statement after Game 4 “that his actions last night are unacceptable and similar behavior in the future will be dealt with by way of supplemental discipline.”
Meanwhile, according to The Associated Press, Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy had a piece of advice for Marchand on Sunday. “If part of his M.O. is to annoy people, find a different way to annoy them. Preferably by scoring some goals, that would be the best way.”
After eight seasons in the NHL, Marchand has received six suspensions, costing him surrendered game checks and fines in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. He’s been described as a “pesky opponent” and a “serious threat to player safety” among those in the NHL, according to Bleacher Report.
Last November, Marchand lamented to reporters that trash-talking is no longer part of the game, due to microphones being everywhere and referees penalizing players. Now it seems he’s trying to find a new way to antagonize his opponents without costing him big dollars or a suspension.
Marchand joined the NHL in the 2010-2011 season where his Bruins won the Stanley Cup. At 5’9” tall, he was called an “elfin enforcer,” and was known for his ability to intimidate, check and fight.
“Maybe it was my size, or just the way I was born, but I’ve always felt like you have to be willing to do anything – literally anything – in order to win. Even if that means being hated. Even if it means carrying around some baggage,” Marchard wrote last month in The Players’ Tribune.
Born near Halifax, Nova Scotia, Marchand received his first hockey stick when he was just three years old. When he was 12 years old, he had a hockey coach who used to remind the young players that there was a less than one percent chance any of them would grow up to play hockey professionally.
Marchand, seeing that he was far from the biggest, fastest or best player on his youth teams, realized that he would have to find a way to stand out for professional scouts.
“If I played the game any other way, you absolutely would not know my name,” Marchand wrote in The Players’ Tribune.