Is Brad Marchands number rafter worthy yet?

By Nick Germano

Brad Marchand is the name of one of the most polarizing and talented players in the National Hockey League. Having been raised and groomed throughout his entire career by the Boston Bruins, he has been a name fans of the team adore.

Other teams, not so much.

The Brad Marchand we all know today is a top player in the league, inhabiting the best range of skill and heart in the entire NHL, whether it be on the PP, PK, forecheck, back-check, breakout, or if the team needs someone to step up and drop the gloves. No other player in the league can bring to their team what Marchand does every game.

However, his career has been riddled with controversies and suspensions. In total, Brad has been suspended six times (19 games total) and received five fines ($24,500 total). His most recent suspension was well over a year ago in March of 2018, when he was suspended five games for elbowing then-Devils forward Marcus Johansson in the head, forcing him to miss around 30 contests from his concussion symptoms. The playoffs proceeding the 2018 regular season was also the year of the “lickings” in the playoffs. Although he did not receive any discipline for what he did, it seemed like Marchand was never going to mature and ultimately ruin his potential legacy through his senseless acts of harm and stupidity.

However, times change, as Brad recently kept himself out of the official’s eyes’ for all of the right reasons, and has also dawned the “A” when C David Krejci was hurt. It is clear Marchand is a leader in the locker room and has helped form a very tight-knit group of guys, which has most likely been a key factor in their Stanley Cup run and their success this season. However, when Marchand finally sees it time to hang up the skates, will he have left enough good behind to see his name in the rafters with the greats?

Born on May 11, 1988, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Brad Marchand was drafted 71st overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Boston Bruins. Having spent his previous seasons in the QMJHL, between the Moncton Wildcats, Val-d’Or Foreurs, and the Halifax Mooseheads.

Brad did not see authentic Garden ice until the 2009-10 season but had his first full season in the year following. Finally cementing a real role with the team, Marchand put up 21 goals and 41 points, along with five short-handed goals (third in the league). With his high offensive numbers for a first-season bottom-six player, Brad earned himself the Bruins’ “7th Player Award”, as voted by the clubs fans through NESN, and is awarded annually to the Bruins player fans believe most performed beyond expectations. Marchand cemented his season with a fantastic playoff run, tallying 11 goals, tying legend Jeremy Roenick for most goals by a rookie in an NHL playoff run, along with 14 assists.

Marchand has never looked back since winning a ring in his first season, as that is not enough to satisfy his drive. After signing a two-year extension following his surprising rookie year, Brad went right back to work, increasing his point total in the 2011-12 season by 14 from the year prior. I believe that this was the time Boston fans first fell in love with the Brad Marchand we know today. During this time, Marchand was a young workhorse looking to make a name for himself in a league that lots thought he was too small to even be in (5’9″). His puck pursuit was relentless, and he had the style of hockey Boston fans love: heart and passion. Marchand was and is a world-class agitator and wore his heart on his sleeve, not being afraid to get in the mix with anyone, no matter their size. Every fight he has been in has been against players who are more prominent than him. Sorry to get cliche, but it is not about the size of the dog in the fight, it is about the size of the fight in the dog, and who does not love stories like that.

Marchand embraced his role on the team and finally saw himself at the top of the roster in the 2014-15 season, logging regular first-line minutes. That has been where Brad has stayed ever since, putting up his first 100 point season in 2018-19. Something else interesting about that season; it was also his most penalized season, even though it was the first year in a while without any scandal in his name.

It seems as though Boston fans have been able to overlook his naughty ways on the ice, and have come to embrace him as one of the faces of their beloved original-six team. To play on a team of the Bruins’ stature is truly an honor, and I think Marchand has been well aware of that ever since they drafted him. He now holds the record for most short-handed goals by a Bruins player in franchise history with 26, recently passing legend Rick Middleton (who’s number is rightfully retired). He also ranks second in franchise history for expected +/-, only trailing linemate and future Hall of Famer Patrice Bergeron.

Brad Marchand wasted no time making his presence known in this league, and it seems like he is on track to be an extraordinary player that his organization has no business in ignoring when it comes time to offer a new contract. If Marchand stays with Boston for the rest of his career, there is not much separating him from eternal greatness in the TD Garden rafters. Having your number retired by an Original-Six franchise is not something that is anywhere near easy. He should not take away from all of the fantastic work he has done for his organization and his fans. In my opinion, one more Stanley Cup is what is separating him from being able to join his linemate Patrice Bergeron in the rafters eventually, and if he can never get there, I think there is a lot more work left.

Nick Germano

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