Hard-nosed; agitator; skilled. Those are three traits that perfectly describe Brad Marchand, who’s been, for better or worse, a player that fans set their eyes to everytime he steps on the ice.
In the not too distant future, Jesse Gabrielle hopes to follow in his footsteps.
“He’s my favorite player. I’ve actually talked to him about it, and we kind of had some laughs about it,” Gabrielle said about looking up to Marchand. “One Day I’m hoping to play with him and I hope to learn a lot from him.”
“If he’s Brad Marchand, I think we’ll be very happy,” Jamie Langenbrunner said about the Marchand comparison during the first day of Bruins Development Camp on Thursday. “But I think that’s a fair comparison in the style of play. He plays on the edge and gets under guys’ skin and he puts in a lot of work off the ice. He’s a dedicated player that continues to develop. He’s had the good fortune of going to Providence the last two years, getting a game or two each time and getting more comfortable each time.”
His sample size in Providence was small over the past two years – four games to be exact. Gabrielle’s three years in juniors, on the other hand, lent credence to the Marchand comparison.
Listed at 5-foot-11, which gives him a two-inch height advantage over Marchand, Gabrielle has already developed similar traits to his comparable Boston counterpart. In three years in the WHL – for three different teams in Brandon, Regina and Prince George – Gabrielle’s development curve was quite similar to Marchand’s.
Though not as prolific of a scorer as Marchand was during his junior days, Gabrielle’s offensive numbers were quite impressive nonetheless having tallied over a point per game in each of his last two seasons, which included a career-best 75 points (40 goals, 35 assists) in 72 games during the 2015-16 campaign. In 61 games last season, he had 64 points (35 goals, 29 assists) helping Prince George reach the playoffs for the third straight season.
Oh and there’s that whole thing of trying to walk the proverbial fine line for Gabrielle. It still needs to be worked on to be sure, but Langenbrunner did see a more disciplined Gabrielle during his stint in Providence, at least compared to juniors.
“He’s learning. Work in progress,” Langenbrunner said on Friday following the camp’s second day at Warrior Ice Arena. “I think like any young player, when the mind is right and he’s going, he finds that balance. Sometimes, he gets a little bit on the wrong side of that line. But, it has improved and his time in games in the American League, it was much improved from junior hockey.”
Compared to his first Development Camp, though, the 20-year-old Gabrielle has come a long way. Like Jakub Zboril, he sees himself as an elder statesman of the Bruins’ youngsters.
“They talked to me about being more of a leader here and, you know, fine-tuning my leadership skills I guess,” Gabrielle said about what he wanted to accomplish in his third stint of his summer session with the Black and Gold. “Just helping guys out as much as I can. That’s what I hope to get out of this camp, and get the best out of them and hopefully get the best out of me.”
Even with Marchand’s recent history with the NHL’s Department of Player Safety over the past few years, his maturity since his first year in Boston has been noticed by the Bruins brass. As he embarks on his first season of professional hockey in the fall, the competitive Gabrielle is eyeing to grab one of the Bruins roster spots in his rookie season and start following his favorite player around on a more frequent basis.
“We’ve seen each other around and have had a little bit of small talk,” Gabrielle said about his previous encounters with Marchand. “But my goal this year is to make Boston this year, and hopefully be teammates with him and be the guy who he takes under his wing.”