Satisfying a Bet: Brad Marchand, bless his heart, is an elite player

To settle a bet, I must praise Rat Face.

Over the weekend, I had the bright idea of making a wager with our friends at Stanley Cup of Chowder. If the Lightning won, they would have to write an article praising Cedric Paquette, one of the Lightning’s most hated players. If the Bruins won, I would have to write an article praising Brad Marchand. I’m not one to weasel out of my debts, so here it is.

Better known as Rat Face, and more recently as “Hart Trophy Candidate” Rat Face, Marchand has finally shown that he’s more than just a pest and a dirty player. Now he’s a dirty player that can also provide offense... a lot of it.

Marchand was drafted in the third round by the Boston Bruins in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. He was coming off a season of 66 points in 68 games with the Moncton Wildcats in the QMJHL. Subsequent to being drafted, he was traded to the Val-d’Or Foreurs.

He went on to put up 80 points in 57 games and added another 40 points in 20 playoff games on the way to a QMJHL championship. He added another four points in five games during the Memorial Cup playoff. He also played for Team Canada in the World Junior Championship winning a gold medal. That team had a lot of future NHLers, led by Jonathan Toews, Kris Letang, Steve Downie, and plenty of other talented players. Oh, and a young kid named Carey Price in net. Can’t forget that guy.

In his next season, Marchand started with 44 points in 33 games for Val-d’Or before being traded again to the Halifax Mooseheads where he’d finish with another 29 points in 26 games. He added to his totals with 19 points in 14 games in the playoffs but couldn’t repeat as a QMJHL champion. He did win another gold though at the World Junior Championships with six points in seven games. That was another star studded team with Kyle Turris, Claude Giroux, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Wayne Simmonds, P.K. Subban, and Drew Doughty among others.

Marchand turned pro for the 2008-09 season playing the entire year with the Providence Bruins scoring 59 points in 79 games in the AHL. His next season was mixed between the AHL and NHL as he had a single assist in 20 games in Boston.

2010-11 was a bit of a break-out year for Marchand offensively, as he contributed 41 points in 77 games. He also contributed 19 points in 25 games in the playoffs on the way to a Stanley Cup championship. He started a streak of having 20 goals and at least 41 points in six of seven seasons with the only shortfall coming during the lockout shortened 2012-13 season.

With Milan Lucic being traded to the Los Angeles Kings, Marchand took over as one of the top wingers for the Bruins. The past two seasons have seen Marchand take a big step forward in his offensive production. He’s scored 37 and 39 goals.

This excellent offensive production has fueled Hart Trophy talk.

Now, with all of that said, this next part is unavoidable. Marchand is a pest. It’s the dark side of him as a hockey player. He tries to get under other players skin and has a knack for doing so. But he takes it too far. Often.

Tonight was another example of his bad behavior. Unhappy that Jake Dotchin had given him a small crosscheck in front of the net (and let’s be honest, Marchand has handed out hundreds of his own in front of the net just like it and much harder) he turned and speared Dotchin in the family jewels. With Dotchin down on the ice in obvious pain, he skated over to him and poked him in the face with his stick while trying to tell the referee that Dotchin was faking it.

Marchand got himself a major and a game misconduct and likely a suspension that could push into the playoffs. He has a history. He walks the line and constantly falls over into the dirty category.

See, if it wasn’t for that behavior, our praise would be unmitigated, and Marchand would truly be considered a top-end NHLer. But as long as he continues to make these kinds of play, his reputation is going to overshadow any of his accomplishments.

Marchand is a player that you love to have on your team (when he’s not getting himself kicked out and suspended), but that you absolutely hate playing against. Paquette and J.T. Brown are the Lightning players that fit that mold, but without the offensive ability that Marchand has shown.

Brad Marchand, bless his heart, has so much offensive ability that’s it’s a shame it’s overshadowed by his dirty plays.