BOSTON — Brad Marchand is at it again.
The Boston Bruins winger lifted the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Ryan Callahan off the ice with a low-bridge hit along the boards in the second period of Game 4 on Friday night. When Callahan confronted him later on, shoving him in the face, Marchand responded in — for him — familiar fashion: He attempted to press his face — and tongue — against Callahan’s face.
“Well, he punched me four times in the face, so — you know, he just kept getting close,” said Marchand, when asked where the idea to stick his tongue out came from. “Nothing big.”
It was unclear if Marchand was referring to a specific incident or the course of the game itself.
“I hope the league looks at it,” Callahan said after the game, a 4-3 Lightning victory in overtime. “I don’t know if there is discipline for spitting in someone’s face. But for me it’s worse, if not the same.”
When told that Callahan referred to Marchand as “spitting” at him instead of licking him, Marchand said, “That’s cute. Good for him.”
Callahan also took offense to the hit that preceded the lick: “I just got lucky that my lead foot wasn’t planted,” he said. “I think if my lead foot’s planted there, I’m not finishing the game.”
Victor Hedman is not a fan of Brad Marchand’s latest antics and says it’s up to the league to decide whether to step in.
Marchand reportedly had been told by the league to stop such antics — Friday wasn’t the first time Marchand attempted to lick an opponent as a way of taunting — although NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied that was the case last week when interviewed by USA Today.
“There is absolutely no place in our game for that,” Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. “I don’t get it. I don’t understand it. I don’t. How would you feel if I walked over to you right now and gave you one big lick from the chin up?”
“I thought he wanted to cuddle. I just wanted to get close to him,” Marchand said after that game. “He keeps trying to get close to me. I don’t know if he’s got a thing for me or what. He’s cute.”
Marchand was not penalized on the play, nor did he receive supplemental discipline.
“It’s not part of hockey,” Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman said. “It’s not part of any sports at all.”
The game was tied 2-2 at the time of Marchand-Callahan incident. Marchand assisted on an early Boston goal and did the same on a third-period score. The first-line winger has four goals and 13 assists in this postseason.
The Lightning have a 3-1 lead in the series, with Game 5 Sunday night on Tampa’s ice.