Friday, 4 May 2018

The Brad Marchand Rule

The NHL Rule Book doesn't cover every specific situation that can happen on the ice, and there have been players who have found loopholes that they have exploited in order to gain a competitive advantage. The NHL reacts by adopting new, specific rules that target these loopholes, and the result is that a few new rules have been named after players - the "Rob Ray Rule" or the "Sean Avery Rule", for example. Brad Marchand will undoubtedly have a rule named for him after tonight's second licking of the playoffs.

After delivering a low hit to Tampa Bay's Ryan Callahan, who decided to address the issue with Marchand at the next stoppage by going nose-to-nose with the Boston superstar-slash-agitator, Marchand responded by licking Ryan Callahan's face as seen above. After licking Toronto's Leo Komarov in the first round and now Callahan here in this round, I don't know if the NHL is going to address this, but they probably should.

First and foremost, there is a significant chance of Brad Marchand contracting a disease from another player. Cold bacteria and flu viruses can be transmitted via sweat from the face thanks to the proximity of his licking near his opponent's nose and mouth, and ingesting one or both of these by use of the tongue after licking a sweaty hockey player - as gross as that sounds - is a real possibility. One of the more serious afflictions that can be transmitted via sweat is the Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria, better known as a staph infection. The staph bacteria can lead to an Impetigo skin infection as well.

Secondly, the cold bacteria/flu virus can go the other way since Marchand's licks comes in close proximity to the faces of his opponent. There is also the possibility of Marchand passing on some rather unsavoury germs such the Epstein-Barr virus (mononucelosis), Herpes simplex (cold sores), strep bacteria, and/or mumps. For the most part, saliva has enzymes that will protect one from most diseases that could be transferred, but those listed above are the most common. The NHL has dealt with a number of mumps outbreaks in recent years, and it can significantly decimate a roster thanks to symptoms not appearing for up to two weeks.

Third, and perhaps this is the most superficial reason, licking someone, particularly a sweaty someone, is just gross.

It was suggested that the NHL contacted the Bruins and/or Marchand after his lick on Komarov, but Marchand emphatically denied that he had been contacted from anyone at the league offices. It became very clear that hadn't happened after his lick tonight on Callahan, but it might be time for the NHL to nip this trend in the bud. Boston does trail 3-1 in their series with the Lightning, so there may not be another opportunity for Marchand to engage in this activity, but it needs to be addressed just as Sean Avery's antics in front of Martin Brodeur made a mockery of the rules and just as Rob Ray not tying down his jersey to his pants made a mockery of the rules.

Ian Fleming wrote in Goldfinger, "Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action." Brad Marchand is on the precipice of enemy action with each lick, so let's hope the NHL is proactive on this one not only to prevent the transmission of infections or diseases, but to prevent anything further "enemy action" from boiling over in the playoffs.

Or, in other words, just stop being gross.

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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