By now you’re well aware of the events that transpired Saturday night between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins (watch here). It was a violent game – featured several vicious attacks – there will be many suspensions, and in fact, one has already been assessed. Yesterday, the NHL’s chief of justice, Brendan Shanahan, penalized Penguins forward James Neal with a 5 game suspension for his knee to the head of Bruin agitator Brad Marchand. It really was a dirty knee to the head that could have had a much worse outcome if Marchand suffered a major injury. However, in the end, Marchand appears to be unscathed.
Some former NHLers have expressed no sympathy for the Bruins forward who goes by the nickname, “the Little Ball of Hate.” In his self-published blog, ex-player Matthew Barnaby said:
“Brad Marchand is a rat. Trust me I know. It was my nickname for 15 years. He is very good at it. He trash talks, uses his stick behind the play and will do anything to get an edge or piss someone off. My guess is he did something to Neal earlier or behind the play to get Neal. Something we didn’t see. I’ll say what we aren’t supposed to….”
Outspoken and sometimes controversial former NHLer Jeremy Roenick was with opinion of the Neal hit, as well. Ultimately, Roenick believes what Neal did was wrong, but he thinks he may have acted similarly if he was still playing in the NHL, and was up against a player he didn’t like – a guy like Marchand.
“I gotta be totally honest with you: If I was playing against a guy I did not like … Marchand is a guy that is not very liked in the National Hockey League … I probably would have done the same thing.”