Brad Marchand is a great player.
A guy whose style of play is designed to take advantage of him being fast, a good puck controller, and a wicked shot. And this year he leads Boston in points because of it.
He is also designed to do something else, they call it by many names: A Pest. A Rat. A Heel. He’s designed to get under the opponent’s skin and their fanbase’s skin and Boston fans have a...love/hate relationship with it.
On one hand, and this is the hand I favor: Now that he’s come into his own as a point-getter? It’s really, and I mean really funny to see people pull a muscle in trying to wrestle with the fact that a player that they’d written off as this middle of the pack pest from Annoying Sports Town Extraordinaire™ (Boston) be in the same conversation as several of the best wingers in the NHL if not exceeding them in points, especially on the penalty kill or shorthanded.
On the other hand, the reason they’re pulling that muscle in the first place is because he has genuinely wronged players and has built a history as more than a rat, but finding himself as the culprit in stupid, reckless, and yes...dirty plays. Sami Salo, Niklas Kronwall, and now most recently Anton Stralman, all have been his victims in this regard.
And it’s disappointing, because right now Marchand is practically vital to Boston getting anywhere close to the post-season, taking up half-and-half with David Pastrnak of the bulk of points gained by Boston’s forwards. He is one of the premiere penalty killers on the roster with, as per usual, loads of shorthanded bids and quite a few shorthanded goals. He leads the team in points, he was Boston’s All-Star for crying out loud.
And still he finds himself either down the sights of Player Safety for a boneheaded clip or actively missing games because of a slewfoot the refs missed behind the play. That can’t happen anymore, especially in a year where the concerns of the Bruins returning to the playoffs is up in the air for right now. It’s disappointing because you can see him clearly being a player that’s more than just an annoying prick to non-black and gold players. You can see him playing like a goal-scorer and like a good one at that, one that can play both ways and re-start the charge towards the opposing net. Players like that are hard to find, relatively.
And Boston needs him to be more than his label. He needs to be Brad Marchand: First line winger. He needs to be Brad Marchand: Penalty Killer.
He needs to be much, much more than Brad Marchand: Suspension pending. Or Brad Marchand: Reckless player.
One can only hope he finally straightens up soon and the most he ends up doing is just minor chirping.