No. But it does go to show how much all of us, as a society, gay and straight; glorify violence over sex. While the licking itself, is nothing more than a simple battle tactic designed to break his opponent’s focus and give the Bruin’s an advantage. The internet hole of opinions have all broken the move in every angle possible with always the same conclusion, usually death or suspension from the league (insert eye roll here). The examination of any comment thread shows just the absolute most wonderful in people, from anti-gay slurs and death threats to comments about homophobia and the perpetuation of the raging patriarchy in our society.
Hockey isn’t exactly known for it’s public displays of affection as much as it’s known for the violence. I mean there are some die hard fans who follow the puck with amazing clarity when they can’t even see person in front of them when they inevitably spill their beer. But let’s be honest here, most of us are there for the fights. Fighting is as much part of hockey as skating is, and it’s not uncommon for players to lose their teeth during game play because they crashed an opponent a little to hard who then turned around and clocked their lights out. There was even the infamous Avalance/ Red Wing game that spilled so much blood on the ice the referee could sweep it with his skate. Yet game play would continue as if nothing happened, except for a couple players in the penalty box.
Instead of taking the gloves off for a beat down on his opponents, Brad Marchand adopted the unconventional but effective strategy of licking his opponents, a non-violent approach. With people calling him everything from a faggot to a homophobe. Despite his marriage to a woman, children and also his outspoken stance toward the inclusion of openly gay players in the NHL while also representing You Can Play as a spokesperson. It seems that the criticism and over analysis of his unconventional strategy is simply unfounded. While it has certainly drawn enough attention to give the NHL a nice ratings boost during the Play Offs and it might even potentially elicit a rule change for the next season (NO LICKING!).
Our perceptions of blood on the ice from fighting being inconsequential but saliva on the face from a lick is worth suspension from the league is simply nothing more than reaching. Completely misguided approach and another example of our glorification of violence and condemnation of sexuality and PDA on all levels. While not traditionally part of the game, unlike ass slapping in the NFL (which, by the way, nobody bats an eye at or condemns as a patriarchal heteronormative form of dominance). Marchand’s strategy is not against the NHL rules of play nor is it worth condemning to a bunch of things he, his conduct nor the whole thing are simply not.
By Dirk Smith