Marchand: Julien allowed him to be more than just ‘an agitator’

1 Comment

Brad Marchand may be one of the most controversial players in the NHL.

He is a very productive player, scoring 37 goals last season. Only once in seven full seasons with the Boston Bruins has he not been able to score at least 20 goals in a campaign, and the only time he failed to do that was coming out of the lockout. But his rap sheet of transgressions and suspensions have made him a very polarizing individual around the league.

Speaking of controversy: The Bruins made just such a decision earlier in the week, giving long-time coach Claude Julien his walking papers. Not only was the actual decision picked apart, especially because Boston’s roster is in need of help and president Cam Neely has fully admitted that, but the timing also raised eyebrows because the news was released during the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade.

There is no doubt Julien left his mark on this franchise. He won coach of the year and a Stanley Cup in Boston. He also left his mark on Marchand, who, despite his run-ins with the Department of Player Safety, is a very valuable forward in Boston, and an elite forward in the league.

“He’s always come to my defense, even when I made it hard on him,” Marchand told NESN. “He allowed me to grow and he’s always tried to get me to be more of a player than an agitator. I think that’s really come out the last few years. A lot of coaches wouldn’t have given me that opportunity over time to grow and mature like that and putting me in the position to succeed.”

Marchand was a critical component to Boston’s championship team, and again in its run to the Stanley Cup Final two years later. But his offensive totals have taken off in recent seasons. He also has 12 points in his last seven games.

The Bruins are going for a third consecutive win since making their coaching change on Tuesday.