Concussions are a serious issue. People always downplay the severity of them, but they don’t realize that it’s a brain injury that can lead to lingering complications. In sports such as ice hockey, concussions lead to players missing extended portions of the season. In several cases, such as Marc Savard or Chris Pronger, concussions can even be career ending.
New Jersey Devils fans will never forget what Brad Marchand did to Marcus Johansson earlier this season. Late in the third period of a close game between the Devils and Bruins, Marchand elbowed Johansson in the side of the head while crashing the net and attempting to avoid contact with the goaltender.
— No Huddle NHL (@NoHuddleNHL) January 25, 2018
The result of the play, besides no penalty being called, was Johansson suffering his second concussion of the season. Marchand would receive a five-game suspension from the NHL for the hit, but he quickly returned to scoring clutch goals for the Bruins en route to a playoff berth. After missing the past 29 games, Johansson finally returned to practice for the Devils, but has still not been medically cleared to play. At practice, when asked about the incident with Marchand, Johansson did not hold back:
“It was stupid. There’s nothing else to say about it. I think there was no point in doing that. There was no hockey play whatsoever there. It’s sad to see that there are still guys out there trying to hurt other guys… It’s sad. It’s stupid. I hope it doesn’t come to him ending someone else’s career before it’s enough. It’s not why we play the game.”
“I think there are always situations where you try to hit someone, you try to make a hockey play and things go wrong. Then there are plays like this where I think it’s got nothing to do with hockey. It’s sad to see. I guess I’m unfortunate to be on the receiving end of that.”
Before you react negatively to this quote, remember that Marcus Johansson not only missed a large portion of this season, but his playing career was in serious jeopardy because of this hit. While I respect Brad Marchand as one of the top players in the game, this hit was flat-out dirty, and it caused the Devils, who are at the moment fighting for a playoff spot, to lose one of their top forwards for most of the season.
I understand that Brad Marchand gets some unfair treatment from people around the NHL, but to be fair, he’s earned it. Over his career, he has been involved in numerous incidents that have earned him his reputation as a dirty player. Yes, there are other dirty players in the NHL who are just as bad as Marchand, but once a player earns that label, it tends to stick.
The New Jersey Devils are hoping that Marcus Johansson will soon be cleared to return to action and help them with a potential playoff run. As stated above, I think Brad Marchand is a terrific player, and I don’t think he should be banned from the NHL as others have foolishly suggested. He just needs to clean up his act and strictly play like the superstar that he is.
Photo: John Wilcox