Marchand to a slightly different beat
Bruins agitator has matured, but Brad won't change his game or stop chirping
BOSTON -- Brad Marchand was sitting at his locker stall Thursday morning answering questions from the local media when Bruins coach Claude Julien stepped out of his office and yelled across the room: "The more you talk, the more you get in trouble."
Julien then exited the locker room with a smile on his face.
It was a jovial moment, but there have been times in the past when the coach needed to make similar comments to keep Marchand in check. Like any young NHL player who succeeds early in his career, Marchand has had his share of moments, both good and bad.
The 25-year-old forward is entering his fourth full season with the Bruins, and the "Little Ball of Hate" has already played in two Stanley Cup finals. He was a key member of Boston's 2011 championship team.
He's also a close friend and former linemate of Tyler Seguin, the former No. 2 overall selection in the 2010 draft who fell from grace within the Bruins' organization last season and was ultimately traded to the Dallas Stars, along with Rich Peverley, in exchange for Loui Eriksson, Reilly Smith, Matt Fraser and Joe Morrow on July 4.
Bruins management was disappointed with Seguin's lack of maturity and failed development during his three seasons in Boston, so general manager Peter Chiarelli completed the deal.
Marchand was paying close attention.
"It's a huge eye-opener," Marchand said. "It clearly states that nobody's safe, expect maybe [captain Zdeno Chara]. Yeah, it is a business, and if something doesn't go the way they want it to go, then they're going to make changes. Every guy in this room is expendable, and we realize that. You want to make the most of the opportunity while you're here, and it really shows if you're having a bad month, a bad half of the season, then you can be on the trade block. That's not what you want, and the best way to stay is to play the best you can every day, so hopefully that can happen."
With camp already a week old and three preseason games in the books, many believe Marchand could have a career season as he continues to play with center Patrice Bergeron and Eriksson. Some also seem to think Seguin's absence will help Marchand focus more on the ice.
"You're not the first person that has asked me that," Chiarelli responded to a reporter's inquiry. "No, you know what, he's just growing up. Again, I can't believe we're talking about Tyler here, but Tyler will grow up, too, and is growing up."
This isn't about Seguin. This is about Marchand and how he can represent the Bruins on and off the ice.
"You always hear me talk about maturing with Brad and finding a balance, and that still applies, but he's one of our top six forwards and he scores timely goals; he scores a lot of goals, and I would expect that to continue," Chiarelli said. "I would hope that he would never lose the edge to his game. I don't think he will."
Chiarelli would like to see Marchand become more of a leader and inherit more responsibility as a younger core of players has emerged for the Bruins.
"It's time to saddle up a little bit more. I would say Brad would be one of those guys, and I think he is willing and looking forward to taking that on."
When told of Chiarelli's comments, Marchand answered the only way he knows how -- in his usual chirpy way.
"I'm expecting the [team captain's] 'C' now," Marchand said with a smile. "I understand that. I've been here for a few years, and I've started to understand how they expect guys to act on and off the ice and what they expect from me. I definitely want to show I can be a leader and I act the way they expect and do the things they want me to do."
For the better part of three seasons, Marchand and Seguin were linemates. As much as Marchand would like to avoid the maturity comparisons, it's evident he misses his buddy.
"It's different. It's a little quieter," Marchand said. "It's always tough in training camp when the team's spilt up; you don't see the guys as much and things are a little different. But, yeah, it's definitely a little quieter around without him. We always joked around a lot on the ice and had fun out there. It's been fun getting to know Loui."
After Seguin was traded, stories emerged that classified him as immature for his excessive extracurricular activity. Some of it was captured on social media. Marchand said he didn't pay attention to the gossip.
"I don't know everything that came out," admitted Marchand. "I heard bits and pieces of it, but I don't know enough about what happened to really comment. It's a tough situation all around. We were expecting him to be here awhile, but things obviously didn't end up that way. Everyone wishes him the best."
Still, Marchand defended his friend.
"I understand the situation completely," he said. "It is tough. He's 21 with millions of dollars and he's in the spotlight every day. People are throwing themselves at him from every direction, wanting something from him. It's definitely a tough situation and it's something you want to be able to enjoy as a young guy, and it's tough with the social media nowadays and everything he does in the public eye -- it doesn't matter where he goes or what he's doing, it's out there.
"It's tough for him to enjoy it. You try to get guidance from the older guys because they can help a bit. It's a tough situation to be in. I don't think anyone in his shoes would be doing a whole lot different. It's definitely tough, and it's his choice to do what he wants, and he's a great hockey player -- that's not going to change."
Marchand is smart enough to realize what he has accomplished already in Boston is more than most have in a Bruins sweater. He's a vital part of the current core, and there's no reason to think this team's success won't continue.
"I feel very fortunate," he said. "I don't think I really realize how lucky I am. It'll kick in later. Hopefully, I'll have a long career. I was very lucky to win one my first year, and I may never get back to another Cup final. I kind of realized [in 2012] when we lost in the first round [to Washington] and we had a really good team and thought we would go far again, but you need everything to go right to win the Cup. You need all the breaks, all the guys stepping up at the same time, and it's very difficult to win."
On the ice, he has embraced his agitator role and is very good at it. He has learned to control it and use it to his and the team's advantage.
"He's got a decent grasp on it," Julien said. "I think whenever it's kind of gotten a little bit out of control is when he gets real frustrated. If he gets frustrated with himself, whether it's the referees being on him early, and you just have to learn that's going to happen because of the way he plays. But he's been pretty good overall."
Julien admitted Marchand's now-veteran status has helped him control that part of his game.
"When he gets frustrated, it takes away from his game, so if he's going to let referees or others get in his kitchen, it's only going to hurt him," Julien said. "He's kind of realizing that and he's trying to stay focused on what he needs to do. So it's important for him not to cross the line. He's an agitator, always will be, and we want him to be that. But there's a time where you have to pull out and not push your luck."
With the Seguin trade indirectly affecting Marchand, the Bruins demonstrated this summer what happens if you push your luck with this organization. Marchand would like a lasting legacy in Boston. Someday his career will end. When that time comes, he hopes his impact with the Bruins will be a positive one.
"I just hope people enjoyed watching me play. I've always enjoyed being embraced by the fans, and hopefully that will continue," Marchand said.