Bruins forward Brad Marchand is keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com all season. What was the best part of raising the banner? How will they move on now? Why won't he be so much of a pest this season? Those are some of the questions, the guy his teammates call "Squirrel," discusses. -- As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
Opening night was awesome. There were a lot of emotions going on. All the guys were feeling excited and I enjoyed seeing how amazing it was for each and every one of us. We were told beforehand what we were going to do but to actually go through it was a lot more exciting than what we pictured. To be there in front of our crowd and to be able to lift the Cup on home ice was a really special time. The big thing that hit me was when [Andrew] Ference gave Rex [Mark Recchi] the jacket [Editor's note: Late last season Andrew Ference bought an 80's Bruins windbreaker on eBay for $35 that the MVP of each winning game would receive] and how emotional that was for Rex, being able to see that was pretty cool.
The ring we all received is unbelievable. It's almost too big to wear. I can't even close my finger when it's on because it's so big. It was incredible and came out a lot better than I thought it would. You think about what it might look like but when you see it…The ring was amazing. I won't wear mine out because it's too big to wear and too flashy for me. I'll break it out just for special occasions.
They even engraved our playoff slogan into the ring: "Full 60+ to History." What that means to us is that we have to play a full 60 minute game. We have to have our best effort every time we're on the ice. If we do that then we can win the Stanley Cup and go down in history. 60+ means sometimes you play a 60 minute game and sometimes you have overtime. It really symbolizes that we have to play our best every minute we are out there.
Look at our Opening Night game against the Flyers. We had one moment where we lapsed at the very end of the first period and allowed two goals. If you have a lapse in a one minute or five minute or ten minute stretch it can cost you the game and that one lapse ultimately did cost us that first game. Those lapses are something we did not want to do in the playoffs last year. I was fortunate to get the first goal of our new year. It's always good to get that first one out of the way. Last year it took me 10 games and it took me 20 the year before. I'm happy not to have to worry about it now. The goal was on the power play. The power play is something that we are hoping to improve. The biggest thing is we need to create a little more offense from it just by shooting pucks at the net and movement around the zone. If we do that then hopefully we'll be a little more successful.
Before we turn the page on this Stanley Cup season, I wanted to let you know what I did with my day with the Cup. My day happened during Hurricane Irene. The night before my day with it, I was with my family, a couple of buddies and my trainer in Halifax. We took a big limo for three and a-half hours to go pick up the Cup at about five in the morning. Because of Hurricane Irene, we were a little worried it wouldn't be able to make it over a bridge to where we are. So we drove over and picked it up at five in the morning, drove back and went immediately to my family's house. We took some pictures and that's where I ate cereal out of the Cup. I went to Children's Hospital for a little bit, had a little parade then there was a little proclamation in the city. There was a big gathering for that. We then took it to the rink where I used to play hockey. We then had a couple hours with it alone at the house to kind of hang out and have supper. We then had a little party to end the night. It was a good time with the Cup but it flew by.
So I mentioned turning the page now that the banner ceremony is over. That has been the big topic of discussion as of late. We don't want to focus too much on what we accomplished last year. It's a new year. If we worry about that too much, it's really going to affect our game. We're going to get caught up in it. Obviously, we can take a lot from it and take the experience and realize what it took to get there, but we do have to let it go and we're ready to go for this year now.
We know it is going to be tough with every opponent wanting to beat the reigning Stanley Cup Champions. Even last year when we played Chicago, who had won the previous year's Cup, we knew playing the champs was a way to gauge our team and see how we match up against Stanley Cup Champions. If you are able to beat them then you feel like you have a shot at winning the Cup. Everyone gets up more for those games and teams are really amped up to play against us. We realize that's just the way it's going to be this year. We have to make sure we're prepared for that and able to take on that task because every game is going to be a battle.
Trying to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions is so tough nowadays because every team is so competitive. Every team on any given night can beat anyone. So many things have to go right to win it. You look at last year's team and so many guys got injured or there was suspensions and stuff. Everything has to kind of line up perfectly. So few teams are actually able to go through that and have the guys who are willing to sacrifice their bodies every single night in order to win. It's very tough.
Usually after a team wins the Stanley Cup they have a lot guys leave. We're very fortunate where most of our team is still intact. We do have a few new guys who are all great players and bring a lot to the table. We're all going through this together and we're able to have another shot at it together. We're all very excited about it. I think having this team still pretty much together is a big thing for us.
I think being at home so much to start the season is huge. Being at home and trying to get some momentum is really big and being able to use our crowd in our home city, we have such a great fan base that we should be able to get some momentum to start the season off. We hope to build momentum and feed off the energy of our crowd and carry that over into our games. It's great to start the season home a lot. Hopefully we are able to use this to our advantage.
As for me, I wanted to talk a little about my style of play, which is to be able to have an overall game where I bring a little offense and am strong defensively as well as bring a lot of energy. I try to be a bit of pest, I guess, at times. I was more trying to play that role last year when I was trying to get on the team and make a name for myself. Now that I'm here, I want to focus more on being an overall player. I'm most proud of having the ability to score over anything else. It's definitely the most fun part of the game and something everyone enjoys. I'd also say I have an emotional style of play which comes from parents. My dad was a very emotional hockey player. He's very gritty and a hard working guy. I get that a lot from him. My mom is a little lippy. I get that from her.
I am someone who has a lot of nicknames. Squirrel is the one that sticks out right now. Squirrel is what the guys have been calling me. It started a few years ago when I played in Providence. We were in the playoffs in Hersey and during the national anthem it was very quiet, no one was saying anything. Some guy from the crowd shouted, "Marchand, you're a squirrel." Word of that made its way up to here and it has stuck.
What else about me might you want to know about? Well, I definitely have a pregame routine. Mine actually starts the night before. I always go to the Cheesecake Factory the night before a game. I eat the same meal which is penne with meat sauce. I then go to bed about 9:30-9:45. The next morning, I get up and have a bowl of Cheerios. I go to the rink at the same time. After that, I always go to the Cheesecake Factory again and have penne with meat sauce. I go home and play Call of Duty for an hour. I'll go to bed from 2:30 to 3:30. I then get up and watch MTV Jams for a bit and watch music videos. I go to Dunkin Donuts and get myself a coffee at 4:20. I get to the rink about 4:30. Then I put all my gear on right side of my body first! I could go on and on about all this.
My best buddies on the team are Quaid [Adam McQuaid], [Tyler] Seguin, and [Greg] Campbell. They're the single guys who are my closest buddies. The vets I go to the most for advice are Soupy, that's Greg Campbell or [Shawn] Thornton when I have a question. I don't have a roommate at home but on the road it's always McQuaid. He's a really good roommate. On the bus, we sit beside each other all the time and on the plane and then we're roommates. We have a good thing going. He can do his thing and I do mine and it just kind of connects well. If he bugs me, I let him know and if I bug him, he lets me know. Plus, he doesn't snore. Though I'm usually sleeping before he is, so I don't really know.
What's been happening on the ice? Well, I think my new line with the addition of [Rich] Peverley to Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and me is going well. We seem to have quite a few chances to score and seem to be connecting a little bit more in practice now. We have a lot of great assets on our line. If we can put it all together we can be pretty dangerous. Other things happening on the ice are there is talk about Timmy [Thomas] getting a few more breathers this year in net. Timmy had an incredible year last year. He played a lot, especially going down the stretch. Tuukka [Rask] looks like he's in great shape this year. He looks strong and like he wants to get in there. It should be big for both of them to get some rest, but we'll see how it all plays out. One other note, Jordan Caron made the team. He's a very solid overall player. He works hard. He's easy to play with and is a great addition to our team. He's a great guy off the ice too!
We had an unusual situation with our second alternate captain this season since Rex is no longer here to wear the A. You don’t see to often sharing the A where Andy [Ference] wears it for home games and [Chris] Kelly on road then midway through the season they switch. I think it's a good idea. We have a lot of great leaders in this room and it's a way to share it. Ference is a very good leader off the ice. He can take control of a room. Kel is very passionate about the game. He steps up in a lot of situations. He stepped up huge last year in the playoffs. You can see what kind of leaders both guys are. Wearing the A shows a sense of leadership. You are someone the guys can look to. It's a big responsibilty. You are expected to do certain things like talk to coaches and referees. When you have the A on your jersey, you're expected to portray yourself in a certain way. We have great guys, who are great leaders, wearing it. Guys that we all look to lead the way.
Some leadership building and teamwork took place when we had a team bonding trip in Maine right before the season. We did a bunch of activities where we worked together as a group trying to overcome different obstacles. It was a time to get away and be by ourselves. It's been so hectic around the city. When we are in town, it always seems like there is so much to do, you know, with families and everything. This was a chance for us to be alone and be together. There was one thing we did at the end where we built a raft. A bunch of different groups built rafts and then raced across a little pond. A bunch of guys ended up falling in, which was pretty funny. I did not fall in but it was a good time.
I know the way the Red Sox went out this year was a tough way to go. I believe teamwork wins championships. If you look at our team last year, we didn't really have any super stars. Obviously, Timmy had a great season last year and is an unbelievable goalie. But we don't have a Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin, we just have a very hard working team. Everyone knows their role and does it very well. Everyone has kind of bought into the system and I think that’s why we won. A lot of teams had better teams than us, we just had better chemistry. Everyone wanted to do the job and did it 110%. I think that is why we won last year.