There is no other player in the National Hockey League who can draw the ire of fans around the league in the way that Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand can and that is quite the statement when you consider this is a league that features players like Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson, Vancouver Canucks forward Antoine Roussel, Los Angeles Kings defenseman Dion Phaneuf, etc.
Marchand is so good at getting under the skin of opposing players and opposing fan bases in fact that he receives a full dose of blame now even when it comes to borderline plays where there remains plenty of room for doubt regarding whether or not it was actually a cheap shot. On Monday afternoon we got an example of one of those plays and although it looks pretty bad for Marchand you could certainly argue that the play was the result of an accidental collision, and not a cheap shot at all. That being said though this is Brad Marchand we are talking about so not many are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Marchand and the Boston Bruins were facing off against the Ottawa Senators in a rare Monday afternoon game thanks to Columbus Day in the Unites States and Thanksgiving in Canada and during that game Marchand appeared to deliver an ugly looking elbow to the head of Senators defenseman Chris Wideman. The play happened very quickly and there were number of factors involved but there's no question that Marchand's elbow made contact with Wideman's head, the question is whether or not it was deliberate.
Marchand came across the ice and I do believe that based on his trajectory on the play his intent was to line up Wideman for a big hit, but both Wideman and teammate Thomas Chabot also played a huge role in how the play developed. Right as Marchand began to position his body for the collision Wideman appeared to attempt a sharp cut back across the ice, a manoeuvre that drastically changed the position of his body and a move that also caused him to lose his balance. Wideman was clearly falling as Marchand came in and delivered the blow and you can argue that it was Wideman that caused the blow to land on his head, although again I highly doubt that many will give Marchand the benefit of the doubt on this play.
Chabot also impacted the positioning on the play although in his case it was the body position of Marchand that was impacted. As Marchand lined up Wideman for the hit Chabot raised his stick in a crosscheck position and gave Marchand a little shove just a few seconds before Marchand and Wideman made contact. This does not look like it would have had a major impact on Marchand's positioning but it would be unfair not to mention it at all given the chaotic nature of this collision overall.
Whether you think this was done intentionally or not, the end result for Wideman was the same. The NHL veteran was rocked on the play and he left the ice shortly after taking the blow to the head. Good news for Senators fans here is that he did return to the game indicating that he hasn't been seriously injured.
Photo Credit: Keystone Press