Bruins winger Brad Marchand told the assembled media after practice today in Nashville that he was “very surprised” when he got to the rink and found out the NHL was looking into a possible punishment for his hit on R.J. Umberger Tuesday night in Columbus.
Marchand said there was no talk about his second-period hit to the Blue Jackets forward’s head in the locker room after the game, so he thought nothing about it. When he woke up this morning, teammates and his agent Wade Arnott told him the hit was all over NHL Network and that he had a hearing scheduled with the league over the phone for Thursday.
“Just because they’re trying to tighten up on head hits and stuff, there might be a reaction to it,” said Marchand.
As for the play, Marchand said he was trying to make contact with Umberger’s shoulder during the pursuit of the puck. It wasn’t until he saw the replay that he realized it was a head shot.
“He’s a big guy. For me to hit him in the head kind of tells you how low he was,” the 5-foot-9 Marchand said about the 6-2 Umberger’s bent-over skating stride on the play. “I think he was pretty off-balance. I didn’t hit him very hard and he fell pretty easy.
“I think where the puck was there wasn’t a whole lot I could’ve done to go around him.”
Umberger, who only briefly commented after the game, made his case for punishment of Marchand to the Columbus Post-Dispatch today:
“I saw the hit this morning. I felt like he led with the elbow. There are certain ways to play out there. Obviously I didn’t have control of the puck. It was free. He could have come and got it. He didn’t need to go at my head.
“It didn’t result in an injury, but it sure could have.”
We’ll find out what the NHL disciplinarians think tomorrow morning. Marchand practiced on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi today, but he might not get to join that combination against the Predators or for a couple more games after that.