So perhaps it should not be shocking to learn that Marchand has done this before. Once again, video from last month appears to show Marchand nibbling at the cheek and neck of Toronto Maple Leafs center Leo Komarov.
(The move marked something of an escalation for Marchand, who apparently tried to kiss Komarov on the cheek during a game last year. For a full history of Marchand’s antics, USA Today has created this helpful guide.)
Anyway, the N.H.L. has finally had enough.
On Saturday, the league said in a tweet that it had put Marchand on notice that his actions were “unacceptable and similar behavior in the future will be dealt with by way of supplemental discipline.”
Marchand responded on Sunday in an interview with NBC.
“It is what it is. I think it’s pretty stupid, the whole situation,” he said. “But if that’s what they want to do, then that’s what they want to do.”
The N.H.L.’s statement was likely welcomed by Callahan, who had expressed displeasure about the episode after the game.
“I don’t know what the difference is between spitting in someone’s face and licking it,” Callahan said.
Marchand’s coach, Bruce Cassidy, said on Sunday that he had instructed his player to “zip it,” ESPN reported.
Cassidy said he understood that Marchand’s moves were an attempt to get under his opponent’s skin. But he said he had urged him to find another way.
Marchand led the Bruins in points during the regular season, and his coach suggested he might more effectively annoy opponents by “scoring some goals.”
Athletes, though, have long invented creative ways to rattle their opponents.
The former N.B.A. center Dikembe Mutombo was known to wag his finger at an opposing player after blocking his shot.
Lance Stephenson famously blew in LeBron James’s ear during the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals.
And Luis Suarez, a Uruguyan soccer player, has on three occasions bitten an opponent, a habit he once defended as “relatively harmless.”
Marchand, it turns out, will have the entire off-season to mull a new tactic.
He and the Bruins fell to the Lightning, 3-1, on Sunday and were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Associated Press reported there was no licking during the game.
On Monday, Marchand tweeted what appeared to be a simple response to the uproar.