There’s always a different feeling and aura whenever UFC superstar Conor McGregor enters the spotlight. His mere presence in the Octagon, the promos he cuts on his MMA rivals and his mere presence brings a vibe that very few professional athletes can match.
His infectious energy brought the TD Garden crowd to its feet as Boston’s guest of honor Saturday night. The 17,565 in attendance got to witness McGregor’s swagger in person from the ceremonial puck drop on.
McGregor knows how to have fun, and the Bruins’ locker room got to witness that first hand during his pregame speech. But they also saw a different side of McGregor that the public rarely gets to view.
“He’s an incredible guy. Very energetic, but he was humble,” Brad Marchand said following Boston’s 2-1 overtime victory over Columbus. “He was very happy to be here, he expressed that, he was very engaged with everyone, he was a great person. It was an honor to meet him, it was great to have him here. The whole city enjoyed it; we enjoyed it. It’s something we will remember.”
The whole city will remember Marchand’s game-winner as well, but not for the act itself, which snapped a three-game regulation skid. They’ll remember it for his celebration afterward that channeled McGregor’s walk to the Octagon.
Who knows if Marchand ever had this celebration in mind weeks beforehand. Regardless, he picked the perfect time to display that swagger with McGregor in attendance on St. Patrick’s Day weekend.
“I was hoping to score just to do it, I knew that before the game,” Marchand said after notching his 15th career overtime clincher. “It’s not every day you have an icon like that in the room with that presence. I was just having a little fun with it.”
Marchand and company enjoyed McGregor’s presence alright. And they gave him something to cheer for in return.
“I’m glad we won. He would’ve come in and probably, you know, had his way with us,” Bruce Cassidy joked during his postgame press conference.
McGregor is a controversial figure, no doubt. After all, he’s a few days removed from his latest legal trouble for allegedly stealing and smashing a smartphone from a fan looking to take a selfie with him.
The Bruins saw another side to McGregor, however. They already had respect for his accomplishments in his field, and have a greater appreciation having seen him in person.
“I was yeah to be honest and he came into the dressing room and had a little speech, a little pep talk before the game and he even came after,” the soft-spoken Patrice Bergeron said. “So much respect for him and for everything that he’s been able to do for promoting himself to obviously doing so well in fighting. So I was a fan before [and] even more so now.”
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