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Marchment's hits could bring NHL to its knees
Wednesday, October 28, 1998
By Jim Kernaghan -- London Free Press
An old sports writer named Willie Shakespeare would have said the quality of mercy in the NHL is not strained, but the credibility surrounding it sure is.
We speak here of Bryan Marchment, the greatest beneficiary of clemency in hockey history. No player in recent memory has inflicted as much pain, impaired and curtailed as many careers and got off as lightly as the San Jose Shark.
Yet upon his return to the scene of one of his many crimes recently, his apologists continued to step forward. This was in Dallas, where the Stars' Joe Nieuwendyk just returned after he was put out of action by the infamous Marchment knee during the playoffs last spring.
It's more like a torpedo than a knee, one that sidelined the likes of Nieuwendyk, Mike Modano, Greg Adams and Kevin Dineen last season alone. Others, such as Peter Zezel and Glenn Anderson, felt its sting earlier.
"It just goes on and on with this guy," Nieuwendyk says.
The NHL would do well to take heed of a case this week in England, where a player was successfully sued for soccer's version of Marchment's specialty.
In soccer, it's called going over the top (of the ball) and a Bradford City player who suffered a double fracture of the right leg won his suit against the player who did it to him. Damages have yet to be set.
Marchment's classic manoeuvre is to line up an opponent in open ice. Nothing wrong with that. Open-ice hitting has become a lost art and can be as spectacular a momentum-shifting play as there is in the game.
The problem arises when opponents sense his presence at the last second and instantly shift to avoid the hit. And Marchment, who sees the chance for a solid hip-check evaporating, cheats by getting his knee into it.
Invariably, whenever hockey players go knee-on-knee, the hitter goes to the bench to muted accolades, the hittee to the hospital for surgery and months of rehab.
Let's forget the euphemisms, the hard noses, the 110 per cents and all that claptrap that surrounds a guy like Marchment and tell the truth. He's an assassin, a bushwhacker who'd have been strung up without a second thought in the Old West.