Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand is arguably the most polarizing figure in the NHL. He toes the line with reckless play while being one of the best offensive players in the game at the same time.
Marchand is the type of player you would love to have on your team, but would hate to play against. Fans have mixed feelings about him. Boston Bruins fans love and support him as he continues to provide the team with elite production night after night. Other hockey fans call him a rat, displeased with some of the reckless hits and antics he has used against opposing players. He’s one of the biggest reasons the Boston Bruins are near the top of the NHL standings at the end of the year.
Last season, Marchand posted a career high in points with 85 as the Bruins made the playoffs for the first time since the 2013-14 season. His 39 goals last season tied his season-high from the year before. This season, Marchand has missed a number of games due to injury and suspension, and as a result has only played 62 games this season. And yet, Marchand is on pace to create a new personal high in points this season as he sits just one point behind his career high this season, despite all of the missed time.
Marchand competed in the NHL All-Star Game this season, which was hosted in Tampa Bay, while undergoing a suspension for an elbow to the head of New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson, and many fans believed that he shouldn’t have been able to take part in the festivities while serving his suspension. Throughout the weekend, he was constantly booed whenever he was on the ice or touching the puck. Marchand embraced the reception from the Tampa Bay, smiling and waving while receiving the boos from the crowd. He even blew kisses to the audience as the disapproving fans poured it on.
But that’s what makes Marchand one of the most interesting players in the league. He doesn’t care what people think of him. He’s just going to go out and play the game his way. As a small forward, measuring only 5 feet 9 inches, Marchand learned early in his career that he needed to play in an agitating role to stick in the league. This, mixed with offensive production and penalty killing prowess has helped him develop into one of the more reliable forwards on the Bruins. His agitation techniques frustrate opponents. He gets in their heads not only through this physical play, but also places himself on the scoresheet night after night.
As his career continues, he continues to get better. He is one of the most important players on his team this year and should be for years to come. If he can clean up some of the dirtier aspects of his game and continue to keep his physical, agitating style in a clean way, the league better lookout. He already is garnering Hart Trophy consideration over the past two years without playing a full season. Just imagine if he plays all 82 games one year.