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An Open Letter to NHL Star Brad Marchand, Who Keeps Licking People

Licking opponents is a great way to get them really angry but it is not the worst juvenile behavior Brad Marchand could be engaging in.

Getty; Fatherly Illustration

NHL star Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins has been called out by his own league for licking his opponents. The man Obama dubbed “Little Hate Machine” has developed a tendency to fight with both his extremities and his genioglossus. He’s licked at least three opponents now, refused to apologize for doing so and, you know what, I totally get it. Licking people is a super effective way of pissing them off. I know this because my son used to be an unapologetic licker and it was absolute torture. He would creep up on me like he was going to be a sweet little guy and then, suddenly, tongue. Miserable.

To be fair, the kid was only four-years-old at the time and, also to be fair, he wasn’t licking strangers (at least I hope he wasn’t). So I can understand the strategy and sympathize with Marchand’s victims — though I think I would be more upset if I was in a playoff game and full pads. Does Marchand understand that his behavior is childish? I’m sure he does. That seems like the point. He’s got a preschool strategy and, well, it’s working. It bothers people in a way that only childish bullshit can.

I do not know if this is genius or stupid. I’m torn. Depends on how well thought out the plan is I suppose.

When my kid tried to lick me, he was usually pretending to be a cat or a dog or something. Is that your deal too? It’s hard to tell from the footage of the alleged lickings, and you can’t really be heard on the ice, but do you meow before you do it? Or bark maybe? At least there would be some context. I would almost think you were a genius if you barked or meowed before running your tongue along some hairy Canadian’s beard. That would show a certain brilliant commitment.

But sadly, I think you’re maybe just being juvenile for the sake of being juvenile and perhaps to exploit a particularly strange loophole in the rule book. I mean, just look at the tweet your league had to send out in response to you tonguing the faces of your opponents: “The League put the player on notice that his actions last night are unacceptable and similar behavior in the future will be dealt with by way of supplemental discipline.”

I swear I have said that exact same thing to my kid. Verbatim. (I often refer to myself as The League. It’s empowering.) And I’m almost certain that I’ve said it in response to him licking me. He received timeouts. You are apparently going to get something more profound than the penalty box and some lost ice time.

But I say that if you’re going to be juvenile, go for it. Escalate. There are plenty of strategies my son has employed that don’t involve licking and have proved similarly effective. Here’s some to mull:

Like, say T.J. Oshie tells you to stop punching your brother. What you can do is start kicking your brother instead while maintaining eye-contact with Oshie, like your saying “I stopped hitting him, just like you said. Now what, punk?”

Maybe you’re playing against Jamie Benn and he tells you to put your laundry down the chute instead of throwing it on your floor. What you can do is just throw yourself on the ground and start screaming “No!” and pounding your little fists against the ground until Benn is worried you’re going to actually hurt yourself.

In a hypothetical face-off with William Nylander, you notice that he has a booger coming out. Shout booger face at him for twenty minutes. Make other players say it. Remind him of that time he had a booger on his face during future games.

Perhaps your losing and Patrick Marleau is getting on your nerves. Say something shitty about my wife, who loves you and has been selflessly taking care of you for your whole damn life.

Another thing you could do, if you really wanted to get Charlie Coyle’s goat, let’s say, is you could just straight up destroy something he loves. Like maybe Coyle has a book that he’s really into and he’s owned for a long time. And maybe he’s reading it out there on the ice because he hasn’t picked it up in awhile. Well if things kicked off you could just get so frustrated that you turn red and then you could pick up that book and start slowly ripping pages from it. Just one at a time while Coyle demands that you stop, choking back tears until he finally grabs it from you and has to go to his room to cool off and maybe drink some bourbon.

Or, maybe you’re just really committed to the licking thing. That’s fine. That works. All I’m saying is that you might want to turn it up a notch with some five-year-old tactics. Because that shit is truly awful. Take it from me.