Looking back, the 2006 NHL Entry Draft can be viewed as an integral piece of recent Boston Bruins history, Yuri Alexandrov aside. Not only were the Bruins able to select Phil Kessel with the 5th overall pick (an asset later to be flipped for profitable draft picks in their own right), but the Bruins also added Milan Lucic in the 2nd round (50th overall) and Brad Marchand in the 3rd round (71st overall.)
And while Lucic is well on his way to proving that he might just be the second coming of now Team President Cam Neely, Marchand continues to solidify his reputation as the guy that everyone outside of Boston loves to hate, but who’d be beloved anywhere else he played because of all the things he does well on the ice for the Bruins.
Many resist going down the Obama path by calling him ‘the little ball of hate’ (reserving that nickname for Pat Verbeek, its original owner), and rightly so. The truth is, much like Verbeek himself, Brad Marchand is so much more than that, developing into a little ball of everything for the Boston Bruins.
Marchand’s NHL Accomplishments
Bruins fans are all familiar with Brad Marchand’s pesky style and penchant for big goals, both of which were on display in all their glory during the 2011 Cup run. In those 25 playoff games, Marchand scored 11 goals (including 2 in the decisive Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks), chipped in 8 assists and added 40 PIM (just 11 less than he had amassed in 71 regular season games) while routinely getting under his opponents skin. Whatever one might have thought about his style of play, there’s an argument to be made that the Bruins would not be Cup champions without his efforts that year.
In 2011-12, Marchand scored 28 goals for the Bruins, second only to Tyler Seguin for the team lead, a feat accomplished in 5 less games played and on 75 less shots on goal. Now in 2013, Marchand leads the Bruins with 10 goals in 15 games played (tied for 7th in the NHL), on a grand total of 29 shots for a shooting percentage of 34.5%. He’s accomplished this feat while averaging 16:44 minutes per game (good for 11th on the team), and has chipped in 2 out of the Bruins league-low 7 power play goals while largely getting 2nd unit minutes (2.14 per game). On the other end, Marchand has also emerged as a key secondary piece on the Bruins league-leading penalty kill, currently rolling at an unprecedented 95.1% success rate. And interestingly enough, Marchand has tallied only 2 minor penalties on the year, perhaps demonstrating new levels of maturity and restraint out on the ice.
The Junior Story
Long time followers of Brad Marchand’s hockey career will not be surprised about the level of success he’s achieved in the NHL. In the QMJHL (as per eliteprospects.com), Marchand was better than a point per game player, scoring 102 goals and adding 146 assists for a total of 248 points in 242 games. Of course, he also added 319 PIM to go along with those scoring totals, early evidence of the chippy style of play that he’s now known for.
In 65 junior playoff games, Marchand scored 25 goals and 54 assists (with 95 PIM), including an amazing run in 2006-07 where he scored 16 goals and 24 assists in 20 playoff games as the assistant captain for the Val d’Or Foreurs, who would go on to be swept in the league finals despite his efforts.
Marchand also excelled at the World Junior level, twice winning Gold with Team Canada (2007, 2008.) During the ’08 tournament, he scored 4 goals in 7 games, tied with teammates Kyle Turris and John Tavares for the team lead, and more than current NHL superstars Steven Stamkos (1) and Claude Giroux (2).
The Future of Brad Marchand
With Brad Marchand under contract through the 2016-17 season, there’s no question that he’s seen as a vital spoke in the B, and so he should be. He does so many things well for the Bruins, and has a game that goes far deeper than the isolated, over the line incidents that he’s most known for (see: Salo, Sami.)
In fact, it seems entirely reasonable to suggest that he should garner consideration for the Canada’s Olympic team in 2014. Think about it: if Steve Yzerman deemed it right to invite the Sharks super line (at the time) of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley, how much more sense would it make to invite Patrice Bergeron, Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand, a highly effective and decorated so-called ‘second’ line in Boston? Even if Seguin isn’t ready to make that leap, Marchand surely has proven over the years that he can excel within the scope of a certain role (previously filled on Team Canada by the likes of Brendan Morrow, Todd Bertuzzi, Owen Nolan and hey, even Rob Zamuner), and he has the international experience plus a Stanley Cup ring to boot.
Based on his reputation, that suggestion may be scoffed at or written off because, well, Marchand is widely ‘hated’ by scores of non-Bruins fans. However, it’s this hockey writer’s contention that hate is always darkest when in reference to a rival hockey team, and any other fan base would be more than happy to add a player like him to their favorite team’s roster. If all of Canada were to witness Marchand at his best against Russia or the United States, for example, the dissenting voices would certainly be few and far between, proving once again that context really is everything.
Either way, Marchand will continue to do his thing – or, a little bit of everything – in Boston, demonstrating that there’s much to love about a guy who induces so much hate.