Brad Marchand & Spearing 101
Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins has once again found himself in the national spotlight for something painfully dirty. Just ask Jake Dotchin who took a Marchand spear right to the “lower nether regions” (my play by play phrase for when somebody gets walloped in the mommy and daddy button).
(Click below for the newest “Bagoon’s Barrage”)
There is no excuse for this and Marchand will probably get a rest for the remainder of the regular season (Update: Yup), especially because of his history. Spearing though, tends…
That is not to say spearing is a good thing by any stretch of the imagination. Clearly it is less prevalent than fighting and when a spear takes place the offender should get five and a couple of days off (my bet is two games for Marchand. I would say three, but because his penalty took place in the first period, my theory is the NHL will take that in to account essentially saying he will serve 2 2/3 of a suspension UPDATE: Yup, rest of the regular season). What I have the hardest time believing is guys like Michael Holley. During WEEI’s afternoon drive-time show yesterday, Holley experienced a massive case of verbal diarrhea and claimed that Marchand’s antics would compel him to try and trade the pesty winger.
The crux of his claim was that Marchand is not reliable because he is going to have these moments roughly once a year and Marchand will have to miss a couple of games. This is completely misunderstanding what makes Marchand go and the current state of hockey. The statement that you cannot be a superstar while also playing dirty is patently false, across all sports.
Playing with Edge Gives You an Edge
The common consensus among the hockey world is that Sidney Crosby is the best player in the world. Something like 98% of hockey fans would admit this. However, more than half of those people would also say that Sidney Crosby is an exceedingly dirty player. In the above five videos two of them involve Crosby and Marchand. Not so coincidentally, when you look at the top five in scoring this season in the NHL you will also find Crosby and Marchand. What makes Holley’s desire to trade Marchand so idiotic is that almost every single team in the NHL would try to get a deal done if you said you were willing to part with the pesty winger.
Not only is Marchand one of the best players in the NHL in terms of scoring, but he is also a superior penalty killer. He is an overall fantastic forward who is on the first penalty killing line for the Bruins where he and Patrice Bergeron are dominant (the Bruins are second in the NHL on the PK while Marchand is tied for fifth in short-handed goals with three and tied for seventh with a pair of assists. He is also 15th among wingers in short-handed time). Practically every team in the NHL would LOVE to have Brad Marchand on their roster.
The same can obviously be said for Sidney Crosby. Crosby can do anything he wants on the ice, including surgery…
Is Sidney Crosby a superstar? Absolutely. Is Crosby a dirty player? You bet. Just because you are a dirty player does not negate you from being a superstar. Holley’s point on WEEI, and one I contend with adamantly is that playing with an edge, being a dirty player, does not stop you from being a superstar. Some of the most dominant players of their time played with an edge and that edge was exactly what tipped them over the top into super stardom.
Baseball: Charlie Hustle Could Not Be Stopped
Pete Rose is one of the best hitters of all-time. He has the most hits ever for in Major League Baseball and the most hits ever by an American born player (I like arguments for Ichiro Suzuki). But for all of his off field scandals about betting and his quirkiness the last couple of postseasons during playoff broadcasts, Rose was “Charlie Hustle.” Rose played with an edge that gave him an advantage over most of the people that stepped on to the diamond with him. The man did THIS in an ALL-STAR GAME!
The collision separated the shoulder of Ray Fosse and essentially ended his career. This was a fairly dirty play. What makes it worse is he acknowledges he wanted to slide and decided, “nope, gonna run him over.” Again… in an ALL-STAR GAME. The pivotal issue for guys like Rose is that their foot is pressing the pedal to the metal all the time. They do not know how to ease off of the accelerator. The second they do, they lose that edge. Rose, here, blasts right through Fosse and that is what made Rose a terror to everybody on the diamond… and a friend to bookies everywhere.
Football: Suh Long Suckers
Superstars can definitely play with an edge and the sport that requires it the most is football. Football is a sport predicated on controlled violence. Sometimes it is difficult to control that violence. While the NHL has two players right now that can be seen as superstars who are also dirty players, there is one man in the NFL who is bigger and badder than most, Ndamukong Suh. Suh will be entering his eighth year in the league when things pick back up for the 2017 season.
All Suh has done since entering the league is rack up 260 solo tackles and 47 sacks, an insane amount for a defensive tackle. He has also made it to the Pro Bowl five times and been selected First Team All Pro three times. This is a man who is a force at the center of the line. However, his chippiness is well documented and his instances of crossing the line are downright scary to watch with the Thanksgiving ejection the one most people remember.
Suh is now heading towards the end of his career, but there was a time when the vast majority of general managers in Football would gladly pick up the phone and take a gamble on Suh. What makes him the dirtiest superstar of all-time for football is that he is doing it in a day and age where the dirty plays are literally being written out of the books. You can no longer do a myriad of plays that were once deemed legal, but Suh does the type of stuff that would have been perceived as dirty in any era. But despite being a nightmare for the ankles, heads and ligaments of offensive players every where, teams still like Suh. It does not matter how dirty you are, if you can help a team win, there will be people asking for your services. Nobody epitomizes this better than the dirtiest superstar of All-Time and he comes from the hard wood…
Basketball: Duh… Dennis Rodman
This was an easy one. The best dirty of all-time is Dennis Rodman. You might not think Dennis Rodman is a super star, but you would be wrong. Dennis Rodman did one thing better than any other man in the history of his sport. Rodman could board. Any rebound, ANYWHERE near him and he could pull it down. He also has an all-time nickname as “the Worm.” He could board, he could defend, and he could do both better than pretty much any man alive. He was essentially a one way player and yet, he is in the basketball hall of fame. But Rodman was a crazy, dirty, FANTASTIC antagonizer out on the court
(Note Bob Costas in the bag against Rodman vs. Mailman)
He was the epitome of the one the edge player. He was the epitome because you did not know whether he was going to use his powers for good like shutting down Shaw for an entire second half and overtime or if he was going to get suspended for 11 games and fined $1 million for kicking a camera man in the groin for no reason. From the hair and defense to the perfectly placed elbows and arm yanks, Dennis Rodman was a dirty player out on the court. But he was also somebody that won multiple rings and could turn a game around by playing right on the edge. You do not have to play on the edge and get down in the dirt to be a superstar, but every so often one of those guys comes along who can dazzle you with his moves one moment and make you shake your head the next. A superstar can be dirty and enjoying their style of play, especially when they are on your team, is good… clean fun.