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  • Brad Marchand offers perspective on Sam Bennett punch

    Tim Rosenthal May 16, 2024

    Sam Bennett entered public enemy territory after sucker-punching Brad Marchand early into Game 3. By the third period of Game 4, the Panthers forward cemented his status as the series villain — overtaking Matthew Tkachuk — after shoving Charlie Coyle into Jeremy Swayman to tie things up at 2-2.

    The Bruins didn’t have Marchand available for Games 4 or 5 as he healed from an upper-body injury. With their season on the line Tuesday night, Marchand’s teammates rallied to extend their second-round series and give their captain a chance to return to the lineup.

    An extra day off between games provided Marchand an extended opportunity for recovery. And after joining his teammates for a supporting off-ice role on their trip to Florida for Tuesday’s Game 5, the veteran winger laced up the skates as a full participant for Thursday’s practice.

    “I’m just excited to get back out there with the guys,” Marchand said after skating on a line with Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic at Warrior Ice Arena. “You want to be out there and you want to be a part of it. It’s hard to watch, but hopefully tomorrow, I’ll be good to go.”


    Marchand still needs a ‘few boxes’ to check off according to head coach Jim Montgomery before potentially re-entering Boston’s lineup in Game 6. But Thursday allowed Marchand an opportunity to publicly weigh in on Bennett’s antics for the first time since exiting prior to the third period of Boston’s 6-2 setback in Game 3.

    Indeed, Marchand felt Bennett got away with a punch. Bennett’s latest incident came a year after a similar interaction with Matthew Knies during Florida’s second-round matchup with Toronto.

    But Marchand wouldn’t deliver any public ill-will toward Bennett. Instead, he kept things in perspective, given his share of multiple tense postseason encounters throughout his career.

    “He plays hard. He’s an extremely physical player…great player for their group,” Marchand said of Bennett. “I think he got away with a shot, but I’m not going to complain. [Expletive] happens. That’s part of playoff hockey. I’ve been on the other side of a lot of plays. I think that he got away with one, but that’s part of the game and definitely part of playoff hockey. 

    “It sucks to be on the other side of it, but that stuff happens, so I’m not going to sit here and complain about it. That’s part of the game, but yeah, I think he got away with one, but it is what it is.”


    Marchand held that sentiment when TBS revealed the reverse angle of the Bennett incident ahead of the Game 4 telecast. Neither the league nor the Bruins or Panthers had seen that concise angle in the immediate aftermath of Game 3.

    A week later, the Bruins and Panthers remain engaged in another heated battle. The on-ice tensions amid another series full of head-scratching officiating have spilled over into some friction through postgame soundbites off the ice.

    Despite his lengthy suspension history, Marchand isn’t one to hold grudges. Yet, he admitted that the physical grind of the playoffs can bring with it an uglier side of the sport.

    “People don’t want to say it, but part of playoffs is trying to hurt every player on the other team,” Marchand said. “The more guys you take out, the more advantage your team has. People don’t say that, but that’s just a fact of the game. So, every time you step on the ice, someone is trying to hurt someone. That’s just how it goes in playoffs. And anytime you can get an advantage on a team, it’s going to help your team win.”

    The scrappy Panthers sometimes bring out the worst in teams with their physical brand of hockey. This year, they’ve overwhelmed the Bruins with their aggressive forechecking and forward and defensive depth.

    Yet, this transitional Bruins squad still has a fighter’s chance. They overcame their latest bout of adversity with Marchand’s absence and now hope to turn that into inspiration — with their captain potentially returning — by forcing a decisive Game 7 Sunday night.

    “It’s the best time of the year, and if I have to get hurt to win, or I have to hurt someone to win, I don’t care. That’s part of it,” Marchand said. “I’m not going to complain because if I’m hit, I’m doing the same thing. I’m not going to complain, and that’s how you win.”

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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