By: Ryan Duffy | Follow me on Twitter: @Rduffy26
The Rat, Little Ball of Hate, Weasel, and Nose Face Killah. These are just a few of the many nicknames Brad Marchand has received throughout his twelve-year NHL career. These nicknames were attributed to him due to his on-ice antics, from cheap shots early in his career to licking and kissing opponents. These antics ultimately earned him a negative reputation throughout the NHL and helped him earn a roster spot early in his career.
Marchand, in the past, tended to cross the line by putting his opponents in potential danger. Many of his cheap shots and on-ice antics were a way for Marchand to cause intimidation and play mind games with Boston’s opponents. As most Bruins fans know, Marchand also isn’t afraid to throw chirps around either. Despite his hatred from fans and players, he has established himself as a premier winger in the NHL.
He started his professional career in the AHL with Providence, where he played 79 games in 2008-09 and scored 59 points (third on the team). Marchand would make his NHL debut the following season in 2009-10. His call-up would be short-lived as he would play 20 games with only a single assist and 20 penalty minutes. With the lack of production early in his NHL career, fans began to doubt whether he could be a full-time player for Boston. Marchand would finish the 2009-10 season in Providence with 32 points in 34 games.
The 2010-11 season would be Marchand’s official rookie season, but he wouldn’t be gifted top-six minutes despite his numbers in the AHL. He would start his rookie season on the infamous fourth line, also known as the “Merlot Line,” with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Claude Julien, head coach of the Bruins at the time, also trusted Marchand enough to play on the penalty kill because of his underrated two-way game.
After grinding it out with one of the NHL’s most effective fourth lines at the time, he managed to earn a spot on the second line with Patrice Bergeron and Hockey Hall of Famer Mark Recchi. Once Marchand got the opportunity to play on a top-six role for the Bruins, he seized it and has yet to leave Bergeron’s side to this day.
Marchand tallied 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points his rookie season (ninth in rookie scoring). He also made his presence known on special teams as five of his goals came shorthanded. As all Bruins fans know, Boston won their first cup in 39 years in the 2011 postseason.
Marchand was a significant contributor to the team’s success as he registered 19 points in their road to the cup. The Marchand, Bergeron, Recchi line had a combined 53 points, which was the highest-scoring line for the Bruins in their cup run.
After their cup-winning season, there was plenty of buzz around the league about Marchand. Marchand would continue his influential top-six role for the Bruins as he collected 247 points in 367 games from 2011-2016. Not only did he become a household name because of his talent, but he would continue his reputation as one of the most despised players in the league.
From 2011-18, Marchand would be suspended six times for a total of 19 games with multiple hefty fines. Since his last suspension in 2018, Marchand has cleaned his game up from cheap shots but continues to be a pest on the ice with his relentless forecheck and chirping.
In the 2016-17 season, Marchand had his breakout year as he reached the point-per-game milestone with 85 points in 80 games. He would achieve a career-high 39 goals that season and helped the Bruins make the Stanley Cup playoffs after missing the previous two. Ironically, most NHL player’s production plateau past 28 years old. Marchand (33 yo) has defied this tendency, with his performance only reaching new levels of brilliance.
Last season, Marchand finished the regular season with 69 points (29 goals and 40 assists), which ranked third in the NHL. Over the past five seasons, there are only two players in the NHL with more points than Marchand (426 points). Those players are arguably the best in the world in Connor McDavid (526 points) and Leon Draisaitl (446).
These numbers are simply astounding, considering Marchand’s age compared to McDavid (24 yo) and Draisaitl (25 yo). Marchand’s progression can be attributed to his offseason training with some of the top-end players in the NHL. In previous offseasons, Marchand has trained with Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon in their hometown province, Nova Scotia. These three players are some of the hardest workers in the entire National Hockey League, and their production on the ice shows that their training pays off. One trait that these three players share is their elite puck control.
It’s no coincidence that Marchand, Crosby, and MacKinnon are some of the best players in the league. They are competitive individuals that motivate one another to become better players each offseason. The training with Crosby and MacKinnon has helped push Marchand to become a top winger in the NHL.
With the rise of on-ice production from Marchand, along with it came leadership off the ice. Marchand has matured as a player, person, and leader due to the mentorship of current captain and linemate Bergeron and former captain Zdeno Chara. He’s adapted his leadership role with the absence of leaders like Chara, Krejci, and Rask, who is no longer affiliated with the Bruins organization. Marchand’s leadership and presence in the locker room will be crucial going forward for the youngsters in the Bruins system. Coach Cassidy addressed Marchand’s leadership in one of his recent media interviews:
Marchand, entering his thirteenth year in the NHL, is now in discussion for one of the Bruins’ all-time greats. He holds the Bruin’s record for most shorthanded goals (31), seventh in total goals (319), tenth in assists (396), ninth in points (715), and fourth in game-winners (61). Marchand was asked in a recent interview about how much longer he intends to play in the NHL. He responded with a smirk and said, “Until they boot me out of the league. Which, with my history, could be tomorrow…” Although he’s on the back half of his career, Marchand has many more miles to give this organization. By the end of his career, the fans may very well see the number 63 hanging in the rafters at TD Garden.