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BOSTON (CBS) – The Vancouver Canucks’ decision to call out Brad Marchand and the Boston Bruins from afar one day after leaving Boston with a 4-3 win and an apparently concussed Sami Salo in tow, caused Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli to take the time to uncharacteristically respond during an impromptu media scrum Monday at the TD Garden.
The Bruins had just completed practice when Chiarelli was asked about Vancouver’s public posturing Sunday in advance of a hearing Boston forward Brad Marchand had with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan Monday afternoon. Marchand was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for a hit that was deemed a clip Saturday.
“It’s not normally my style to respond in the media to stuff like that, especially when there’s a hearing coming up,” said Chiarelli. “I would like to respond in the spirit of protecting our player. The comments made about our player, I don’t like that. Brad does play on the edge, but he’s no dirtier than maybe two or three of their players. So I think in general after a game like that, an incident like that, you see all the high-handed propaganda and I just feel the need to respond. Whether it’s from coaches, GMs or players, I don’t like to hear that type of stuff. Certainly I think there’s a lobbying element to it.”
It was Canucks GM Mike Gillis who described the Marchand clipping call on Salo as “a dirty play by a dirty player.” Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault expounded further on his opinion about the play and Marchand in general when he told the Vancouver Sun:
“Marchand – and this is just my feeling – but someday he’s going to get it. Someday, someone’s going to say ‘enough is enough’ and they’re going to hurt the kid because he plays to hurt players. And if the league doesn’t care, somebody else will.”
That Vigneault would refer to an opposing players as someone who’s “going to get it” was eerily reminiscent of a threat from Vancouver under a prior regime. In March 2004, then-Canucks forward Brad May mentioned a potential “bounty” on the head of Colorado’s Steve Moore, who had injured Vancouver’s Markus Naslund with an unpenalized hit to the head. The next meeting of the two teams will forever been known for the brutal attack Todd Bertuzzi executed on Moore, whose career was ended by injuries suffered that night. Moore’s civil case against Bertuzzi, which also names the Canucks, May and former Vancouver head coach Marc Crawford is still in litigation.
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“Also, I think we’ve learned our lesson over time that that’s a real inappropriate comment. That’s a real inappropriate comment and it’s an unprofessional comment,” said Chiarelli, about Vigneault’s threatening remark.
Added Bruins head coach Claude Julien: “We all know that that comment has been said before, and it didn’t turn out well. So we’ll leave it at that.”
Julien is a longtime friend of Vigneault’s from growing up in the same area. The Bruins bench boss obviously took offense to something else his Vancouver counterpart said, which was that Julien’s claim that Marchand was protecting himself was “stupid.”
“I think it’s pretty hypocritical everything that’s been going on. It’s unfortunate. Because, you know, sometimes you’ve got to look in your backyard,” said Julien. “We all know he’s got the same type of players on his team. And they’ve all done the same thing. You just have to look at [Alex] Burrows putting his blade in [Shawn] Thornton’s throat. It’s all hypocritical. So it’s unfortunate. I guess we’re stupid, we’re idiots and they’re the smartest team in the league. So I guess we need to listen to all the gab they have to say.”
Both Chiarelli and Julien held firm to their belief that the Marchand hit was not clipping and they cited several examples of similar hits that did not earn discipline from the league. Regardless of what the league rules in the Marchand matter, don’t expect the Bruins to change the way they play.
“I think we’re built to be a physical team. All we’ve got to do is play within the rules,” said Julien. “The other thing is, it’s up to everybody to understand if we cross the line and if we’re taking bad penalties, then we deserve to be penalized. But if we’re playing within the rules, it’s a game of contact. So we’re not going to change our style. Maybe we’re the focus of the league right now because maybe the way we play the game, but as long as we’re playing within the rules, there shouldn’t be any issues.”
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.