At the beginning of his Boston tenure, Brad Marchand stood out as an agitator with a productive scoring touch. Over time, he overcame his “little ball of hate” persona to grow into one of the team’s top leaders and became a bonafide top-tier left winger.
While his edgier traits still popped up at times — including his pair of suspensions from the 2021-22 campaign — Marchand became more of an asset and less of a liability over the last decade. His transformation came full circle on Wednesday when the Bruins named him as the 27th captain in team history.
“I am extremely proud and honored. It means more to me than I think anyone will ever know,” Marchand said following Wednesday’s off-ice testing portion of training camp.
“I am extremely proud of Brad and the hockey player he has become,” Boston CEO Charlie Jacobs said in a statement. “Brad has been a Bruin for over 15 years and had the opportunity to learn from great leaders in Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. He is ready for this opportunity and our whole team will learn from his competitive nature and tenacity. I am confident he will represent our organization with heart and grit.”
The longest-tenured Bruin enters the 2023-24 season with 943 career games under his belt. He currently sits sixth in team history in goals (372), ninth in assists (490) and seventh in points (862).
Marchand earned a few blemishes on his resume from his history with the NHL Player Safety Department. The 2006 third-round selection has eight career suspensions, including his most recent six-game ban for punching Penguins goalie Tristian Jarry during a Feb. 2022 tilt at TD Garden.
For the most part, however, Marchand overcame his reputation. His transition into a well-rounded leader suits the Bruins well entering their first season without two of their top centermen in franchise history — Bergeron and David Krejci.
Indeed, Boston’s upper brass discussed the responsibilities of donning the ‘C’ with Marchand. And surely, Marchand witnessed how his two predecessors Chara and Bergeron, fit the model of a captain to a T.
But even with the added responsibilities, the Bruins don’t want Marchand to sacrifice the emotional and energetic traits that made him the player he is today.
“That was definitely one of the conversations we had with Brad when we told him he would be our next captain,” Bruins President Cam Neely said. “We don’t want him to change his game because of [being named captain]. He’s a great player for us, and his competitiveness makes him a great player.”
With his knack for dragging the Bruins into battle, the uber-competitive Marchand transitioned from a member of the Merlot Line at the beginning of his career to a top-six dynamic playmaker.
Boston’s new captain admitted that he won’t shy away from what made him a successful NHLer for the last decade and a half.
“I do play with a certain type of passion and emotion,” Marchand said. “I won’t lose that. That’s just who I am, and I’ll need to continue to do that to be a good player in this league. It’s allowed me to be successful, and I don’t want to get away from that.”
But Marchand won’t be leading the team alone.
He’ll have company with David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy serving as alternate captains this season.
It won’t take a letter for the Bruins to transition from the Bergeron and Krejci era. Even with their departures, they’ll have a healthy presence ready to fill in the leadership gaps entering their Centennial season from Brandon Carlo to Charlie Coyle, Jake DeBrusk, Hampus Lindholm, a returning Milan Lucic and veteran power forward James van Riemsdyk.
Bergeron, Krejci, Chara, and others built a stable foundation for the Bruins going forward. They left the locker room in good hands with Marchand, one of the two remaining members from the 2011 Stanley Cup squad.
“When we had Bergy and [Chara], we had two captains for a while, and that just bleeds through the lineup,” Marchand said following Boston’s first captains’ practice a couple of weeks ago. “With Bergy … everyone had a ton of respect for him. So everyone would follow what he did and what he said, but he brought a lot of guys in together and gave them a lot of responsibility and allowed them to feel like they had a voice, and that took place again through the lineup. We’re gonna have to do that again this year.
“You’re not going to replace guys like that in the room. But collectively, as a group, we just have to come together and find out what our goals are, what our beliefs are for this season and build on that together.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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