TAMPA — Brad Marchand is pretty used to the reception he received during NHL All-Star Weekend. Even without his current five-game suspension — which he’ll resume serving on Tuesday — his reputation around the league has earned him plenty of boos in opposing arenas.
As he spent All-Star Weekend having fun playing the role of ‘bad guy,’ Marchand embraced it and enjoyed himself.
When he was introduced before the Skills Competition Saturday night, he gave a royal wave to the AMALIE Arena crowd as boos rained down. When Tampa Bay Lightning fans held up a sign reading “EXTERMINATE THE RAT” and featuring a caricature of him eating cheese, he smiled and took a photo in front of it. When he was tripped up by the Pacific Division’s Johnny Gaudreau in the All-Star Game final, he played up his reputation as an embellisher while trying to draw a double minor.
Before the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament began on Sunday afternoon, the All-Stars entered the rink on a red carpet and through a throng of fans wanting photos and autographs. Marchand heard the boos there as well.
“I thought there’d be some flying objects going around, but luckily I didn’t get hit by anything,” he joked.
The specter of flying objects or being booed every time he touched the puck didn’t rattle Marchand as he scored a goal and added two assists as the Atlantic Division fell in the final. It was all about enjoying the weekend.
“That’s what this weekend’s about: having a good time,” he said. “Just trying to take it all in. Very rarely do you get to come to these things. [I’m] really, very happy to be here, so I just want to enjoy every second of it.”
Despite Marchand being a good sport this weekend and taking in the hate that was sent his way, he doesn’t see his reception in other opposing arenas changing any time soon.
“I think it’s been following [me] for the last 10 years now,” he said. “It’s not going to be any different than it is anywhere. It’s how it is. There’s always guys like that in the league. You can’t change how the fans think.”