Here it comes. The biggest moment in Sidney Crosby bias history. 16 days ago, Pittsburgh’s Crosby hit Buffalo’s Ryan O’Reilly in the groin with the blade of his stick. Call it a spear. Call it slash. It doesn’t really matter. Just call it. That’s what the people want.
Neither the on-ice officials nor the NHL’s Department of Player Safety called it anything, resulting in outrage and bitter accusations of favouritism.
Just two days ago, Boston’s Brad Marchand hit Tampa Bay’s Jake Dotchin in the groin with the blade of his stick. This time it was called a spear by both the on-ice officials and the Department of Player Safety, resulting in a five-minute major penalty, a game misconduct, and a phone hearing to discuss possible supplemental discipline.
The fact there’s a hearing at all for Marchand has already fuelled the Crosby hating engines. The outcome Thursday morning could be the smoking gun proving once and for all the NHL goes out of it’s way to protect Crosby.
There is of course the possibility the hearing for Marchand has more to do with his action being more violent, more dangerous, and more blatantly intentional compared to Crosby’s than it does with a Crosby bias.
There’s a chance it has more to do with Marchand having almost as many suspensions as seasons played than it does with a Crosby bias.
There’s also the very real possibility fans are burying Marchand before he’s dead, so to speak. Historically, the NHL gives fines for spears. The most notable fine is the infamous $5,000.00 paid by Brandon Prust for his spear to the groin of Marchand in December 2015, which he later described as the best money he ever spent.
What Marchand did in and of itself is worth a fine and nothing more. If a suspension does happen, it’s going to be because Marchand is a repeat offender. Not because of a Crosby bias.