Let’s get something off my chest, right from the start: I am not a fan of Brad Marchand’s numerous instances of crossing the proverbial “line”. In fact I have arguably been one of his most vocal critics in the Boston media. Here’s me criticizing him on a podcast, here’s me criticizing him on Twitter here, here, and here, etc. If you can’t see past this, this article isn’t for you, full stop. This article isn’t a defense of Marchand, he doesn’t deserve it, and I’m not offering it. What I am saying here is that having a dirty player on your roster doesn’t exclude you from calling out opponent’s dirty players. It’s an easy thing to grasp for most, but for many it may as well be trying to explain the mysteries of the space-time continuum.
Brad Marchand is undeniably a dirty and at times dangerous player, but he’s not the only one, and fans and media alike need to stop with the whataboutism every time a player does something dangerous. Each time an opposing player crosses the line against the Bruins and fans mention it, there is a predictable groundswell of “What about Marchand” responses from the opposing fan base. It’s an obnoxious reality for fans of every team, especially ones who are vocal in their criticism of dirty plays from their own team.
Most fans are smarter than to resort to this “logic”. However, since so many hockey fans feel the need to justify Nazem Kadri’s barbaric hit on Tommy Wingels last night, here I am explaining that Kadri is well on his way to being just as dirty (and arguably more dangerous), than one Brad Marchand. Yes, you read that right. Buckle up readers, we’re taking a trip.
Let’s dive right in: Nazem Kadri has played a total of 488 games in the NHL, and through those he has been suspended 4 times for a total of 14 games, each time for a shot to an opposing players head. Brad Marchand has played 602 games in the NHL and been suspended for 19 of them, while also being fined 3 times for non diving related infractions. However when you look at both through their first 488 games, Marchand was suspended 4 times for a total of 12 games, only one of which was a headshot.
Of key importance, Brad Marchand’s suspensions have come from varied plays, each with a different degree of “dirtyness” and more importantly, danger, to opposing players. I’ve broken both of their histories down below for reference.
Okay, so they are both repeat offenders, but Kadri’s suspendable offenses have consistently been pre-meditated and always involved taking runs/shots/checks at opponent’s heads, as shown below. Marchand has been suspended for clipping, slew-footing, spearing and elbowing. All of which are dirty and dangerous to varying degrees, but his M.O. isn’t to target other players heads, as much as it is to trip, bridge and spear them at seemingly every opportunity. While still dirty, there is a key distinction between spearing or tripping a player and charging through a players head, blatantly throwing your elbow through a players head, or using your stick to crush a player’s face. Moving on.
Here’s Kadri’s first suspension: He blatantly and purposefully drives his elbow through the head of Niklas Backstrom. There is no gray area here. It was intentional and designed to injure.
Here’s his 2nd suspension: He catches Matt Fraser straight in the head. Not his dirtiest hit, but a head shot nonetheless.
Here’s his 3rd suspension: Another clearly premeditated attack at an opponent’s head.
Here’s his 4th suspension: This one is easily the worst of them, especially in the context of him already having boarded Tommy Wingels (seen here) earlier in the night. This is the type of hit that could end a career, or even a life.
Bonus round: Let’s not forget that Kadri has also been fined for diving like Marchand, and has also had numerous other borderline/dirty plays go unpenalized by DOPS. Examples you say? How about this low bridge a la Brad Marchand against Luke Glendening, who you may remember from just a few paragraphs ago. Kadri even managed a trifecta just last night, landing a dirty knee on knee early in Game 1, before going headhunting twice against Wingels. The point being, that there is a track record, with and without suspensions or fines, just like Marchand, yet there is hardly ever the outcry locally or nationally that we all hear when Marchand does something dangerous.
Okay, so you made it this far, probably foaming at the mouth in anger, just needing to yell about that filthy rat Marchand. Good. He deserves almost all of the criticism he gets. The difference is, with Marchand there is at least a tiny sliver of chance that some his actions were accidental or at least not pre-meditated, and while I personally won’t EVER give Marchand any benefit of doubt, Kadri’s actions are as transparent as any I have ever seen. The Marcus Johansson hit is a great example of this (below), in that while I firmly believe it was intentional, it is still up for debate if we are being completely objective. If it was another player with a clean history, they would arguably be given the benefit of doubt that Marchand has rightfully stripped himself of.
Kadri’s hit on Wingels last night is one of the most dangerous I have seen in an entire lifetime of watching hockey, period. Did Wingels catch Marner with his elbow? He sure did, but it didn’t seem overly intentional and came from a well respected, clean player. Even if it was intentional, Kadri’s response was the hockey hit equivalent of nuking your neighborhood because your neighbor stole your newspaper. He’s a danger to himself and others on the ice, and in that, he’s more alike to Marchand than perhaps any other player currently in the league.
So go ahead, criticize Marchand, I won’t stop you, but maybe you can stop using him as a reason to excuse your favorite player’s equally dangerous actions.
If Kadri doesn’t start cleaning up his game, he may very well match or even surpass Brad Marchand as the dirtiest player in the game by the time he hits Marchand’s current amount of games played (602). Maybe he smartens up and reaches that mark without any further incidents, anything can happen.
I’m just hoping he doesn’t end anyone’s career before he realizes that.