As an up-and-coming pest in his rookie season in the NHL, Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand is still trying to fight the right balance between agitation and self-destruction.
Last night’s shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs revealed the live-by-the-sword, die-by-the-sword approach, as Marchand scored a beautiful shorthanded goal but also fueled Toronto’s fire by pantomiming a golf swing.
It was a regrettable moment that yielded a reprimand from Bruins coach Claude Julien, according to Joe Haggerty of CSN Boston. Marchand is making a solid case for Calder Trophy consideration this season, as Haggerty points out he’s in the top 10 in the following categories: goals (fifth place with 21), points (six with 40) and plus/minus (second with +26). He’s also dangerous on the penalty kill, as he’s tied for second place among rookies with New York Islanders speed demon Michael Grabner with five shorthanded goals.
It’s shocking that Marchand – not high draft pick Tyler Seguin – is the Bruins forward earning such a great debut year, but he still needs to find the right balance between pushing buttons and lighting the wrong fires. Haggerty captures Marchand’s thoughts on the ill-fated golf swing motion.
The golf jibe is the traditional put-down for NHL teams that aren’t going to qualify for the playoffs, and that seemed to be the message the mischievous Marchand was relaying to the Leafs players. Unfortunately Marchand’s golf-inspired taunts along with a few third period gaffes by the Bruins led to overtime with the resilient Leafs, and eventually fell in a shootout loss.
Julien read Marchand the riot act between the second and third period about his bush actions toward the Toronto bench, and the Bruins agitator admitted he’d gone a little too far this time.
“I think in games like this, really high intensity, guys [are] getting into it a bit,” said Marchand. “Sometimes you’re going to draw penalties. They’re trying to get on the power play, and I think that was part of it for both teams.
“Kessel punched me in the mouth and I was a little rattled. I thought he was calling a penalty for it. Then, they we’re saying some stuff and I was just yelling back. [The golf swing] was a little immature of me. I shouldn’t have done that. I got a little bit of an earful, so it won’t happen again.”
As Haggerty points out, it’s better than Marchand learns a lesson like this now rather than during the playoffs, a time in which such an act could be a real goat-like moment. If Marchand truly regrets the moment and learns from it, he could eventually develop his annoying but effective game to an Alexandre Burrows level. If not, he might be stuck in a glass half-full/half-empty space like Sean Avery.
Either way, Marchand probably won’t evoke his inner Johnny Carson again anytime soon.