Erik Karlsson weighs in on National Hockey League licking controversy

KEEPING IT IN REACH Charlie Mc Avoy tries to grab the puck out of the air in front of goalie Tuukka Rask during last night’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Garden above Rick Nash puts a hit on the Lightning’s Steven Stamko

KEEPING IT IN REACH Charlie Mc Avoy tries to grab the puck out of the air in front of goalie Tuukka Rask during last night’s Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals at the Garden above Rick Nash puts a hit on the Lightning’s Steven Stamko

But the strangest has been Bruins heel Brad Marchand's newfound desire to lick his opponents.

"All I'm going to say is, there's absolutely no place in our game for that".

"It doesn't take us off our game", Callahan told reporters. "I don't get it. I don't understand it", said the Lightning coach. We keep going, and we'll let the refs handle that.

Spoken to by the NHL's Colin Campbell this morning, Marchand (as well as Bruins general manager Don Sweeney) were told that Marchand's actions were no longer considered acceptable, and that an additional lick or similar behavior would come with supplemental discipline, such as a fine or suspension. "How would you feel if I walked over to you right now and gave you one big lick from the chin up?"

And when Marchand was asked about Callahan referring to the incident as spitting rather than licking, the Bruins player said: "That's cute".

"Well, he punched me four times in the face, so, you know, he just kept getting close", Marchand said after the game, a 4-3 Boston loss. "I know he's trying to get into an opponent's head", said Penguins center Riley Sheahan. "I was more anxious about being there for the scrum after, waiting for explanations from the referees what their call was going to be".

Marchand's antics began in Game 1 of the first round against the Maple Leafs when, in the heat of a scuffle with Leo Komarov, he nuzzled the Toronto tough guy, smooching his neck. Instead, he made a decision to lick his opponent on the face - and not for the first time.

"Sometimes I think he's a little goofy, " Cassidy said after Marchand's first incident.

"It's a play I've never seen happen before in hockey", Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey said. "It's when he starts to go the other way".

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