Keep your tongue to yourself. In other words, stop licking, lickety split.
That’s the gist of the message from the National Hockey League to Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.
The veteran winger who has developed into a bonafide scorer, also has a reputation for figuratively getting under the opposition’s skin. He took that characteristic to a literal extreme in Game 1 of his team’s first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, actually licking forward Leo Komarov. The video is even better when put to music.
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) April 13, 2018
According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the Bruins recently received a stern phone call from League officials asking Marchand to refrain from licking other players. While not exactly a tongue-lashing, it was a message to clean up his act.
Though many media outlets have continued to run with the story of the NHL intervening, including The Boston Globe and NBC–the NHL’s broadcast partner, Marchand has flat-out refuted it via social media. Some think it’s click-bait. Could it be lick-bait?
Komarov the Lollipop
There’s a classic Tootsie Pop commercial that poses the insightful question: “How many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?” and answers it with “The world may never know.” It’s safe to say no one wants to know how many licks it would take to get to the center of Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov.
When it happened, chatter arose about the possibility of unsportsmanlike conduct or interference penalties for Marchand, but no discipline was handed out. Chalk it up to yet another typical ‘Marchand being Marchand’ moment. The noted pest revels in this sort of controversy.
Marchand’s Tongue-in-Cheek Comments
While most people will say it was an attempt by Marchand to disrupt Komarov’s game, according to the pesky player, it was Komarov who provoked his antics.
After the game, a reporter asked Marchand what it was about Komarov that made him want to lick his face. “He kept coming after me after whistles and stuff like that every time he was going to the bench,” Marchand said in the locker room after the game. “I just thought that if he wanted to keep touching me and that we were going to get a little closer, then he might want to.”
The soundbites continued a few days later from Marchand. “He keeps trying to get close to me. I don’t know if he’s got a thing for me or what. But he’s cute.”
Marchand suggested at one point mentioning that he had bad breath and probably needed some Mentos.
Mentos–the company–quickly responded with a tweet and a care package for the latest little ball of hate.
Marchand and Komarov’s History
The awkward relationship between Marchand and Komarov dates back to earlier in the regular season. During a game in November, Marchand appeared to plant a kiss on Komarov’s cheek during a post-whistle tie-up. Asked about the smooch afterwards, Komarov smirked and said, “I kind of liked it.”
Blowhard Don Cherry of Hockey Night in Canada seemingly lapped up Marchand’s behavior and shared it with pride. Komarov took it all in stride. He even joked to reporters, “I told him I have a wife and a baby, so I can’t do it right now.”
Komarov’s Maple Leaf teammate Nazem Kadri was almost speechless.
“Everyone seems to be a huge fan of Leo. I’m not quite sure what it is,” Kadri said when asked what he thought drove Marchand to make a move. “I thought it was pretty hilarious, but I don’t know what he was thinking there.”
When asked what he’d do if it happened to him, Kadri was flummoxed. “I would be very confused and would find it a bizarre and odd situation. I am not sure how I would react.”
Types of Hockey Checks
In 1982, Buffalo Sabres center Gil Perreault named the three most important elements of professional hockey: “Forecheck, backcheck, paycheck.” His remark became a classic hockey saying.
There are other types of checks in hockey–body checks, hip checks, stick checks and poke checks. Apparently, now, there are also tongue checks.
That sound you may be hearing right now? It’s likely Gordie Howe spinning in his grave. He’d stand for none of this nonsense in the game.
It’s Not You, It’s Me
Now that the series is over, the two players are going their separate ways.
Komarov, who only played in the first two games of the series before being a healthy scratch, is now done for the year.
The affectionate Marchand, who has transformed himself from a good player with bad habits to an elite one who still makes repeated questionable decisions, had an assist and an empty-net goal in Game 7. He played on a dominant line with Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, pitching in three goals and six assists in the series.
The Bruins will face the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the postseason, with Game 1 slated for Saturday at 3 P.M. ET in Tampa Bay.
Jeff has been covering the NHL for over a decade for various sites. He’s been with The Hockey Writers as a lead Sabres writer three years, while also writing a satire column called “Off the Crossbar.”