Bruins' Marchand maturing both on, off ice
Wednesday, 09.18.2013 / 7:00 PM
By Matt Kalman
BOSTON -- There are numerous iconic images from when the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011: Captain Zdeno Chara raising the Cup above his head and unleashing a monstrous roar; a million fans turning out for a parade honoring the team; and the ring ceremony and banner-raising on opening night of the 2011-12 season.
Then there were some of the behavior young forwards Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin engaged in during the summer of 2011. As the Bruins come off their second trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 24 months, this time after six-game loss to the Chicago Blackhawks, one of those two young forwards is now working for the Dallas Stars, the other is trying to continue his rise to NHL stardom.
Marchand admitted it was a "bit of a shock" when Seguin was traded to Dallas on July 4. But as close as they were as teammates and friends, they had taken decidedly different paths since that championship summer. While some of Seguin's off-ice decisions could have played a part in the trade that sent him to Dallas, Marchand's commitment to maturing as a person as well as a player made him a cornerstone of the organization.
"I think we had a great leadership group and they really keep you grounded," Marchand told NHL.com. "Everyone in the room makes sure that you keep a level head. The biggest change was after we won the Cup, and for that run, it seems like things got 100 times bigger after that, and from that point everyone seemed to kind of do a great job of reeling guys in. There's a lot of guys that talked to me and led me in the right direction. Luckily I dodged a couple [of] bullets."
He had plenty of help. There were meetings with the coaching staff and front office, as well as heart-to-heart chats with teammates that helped him mature.
"After we won, we celebrated, I think like any kid would do after winning the Cup. And I don't think if I could go back I'd change anything," he said. "I had a great time and it could potentially be a once in a lifetime opportunity. But at the same time, there's a point where you've got to realize there's a job, you have a reputation and you want it to be a good one. They kind of sat me down and reeled me back in and let me know, 'OK, we understand, but get back to business and let's do it again' kind of thing. From that point forward I kind of got back on the right track."
Marchand's teammates have noticed he's becoming more professional.
"He has matured in the last little bit. He was a young kid when he got here three or four years ago," forward Shawn Thornton said. "He's definitely kind of grown with his age and he's settled down a little bit and it's definitely helped his play. They kind of go hand-in-hand sometimes. We've all gone through it. It takes a few years obviously when you're in the public eye. I think sometimes people forget sometimes these kids come in and they're the same age people would've been in college. And remember the stupid [stuff] that you did in college.
"He's grown. I think he's grown as a player, he's grown as an adult, and they're translating."
On the ice, Marchand proved he wasn't a flash in the pan by scoring 27 goals (six more than the prior season) in 2011-12. His 18 goals in last season's 48-game schedule put him on pace for his first 30-goal season when projected over the course of a full campaign, and his 36 points were the most on the team. He was a solid contributor during the Bruins' run to the Final last spring, although his four goals during the Stanley Cup Playoffs were a big drop from the 11 he scored in the Cup-winning year.
Marchand's emergence as a solid two-way player (plus-76 for his career), earned him a spot at Canada Olympic orientation camp last month. It was another experience the 25-year-old can build off.
"To be there with all those guys, it was a lot of fun and a very big honor. So I tried to take it all in," Marchand said.
Marchand's maturation off the ice might carry over to his on-ice performance. Though he's known as one of the NHL's top pests, he feels less agitating might lead to more production, at least up to a point.
"Yeah, a little bit. It's not as important to me anymore," Marchand said in response to a question about changing his game. "I want to be a better player, a better two-way guy, more after [linemate Patrice Bergeron's] game, that kind of player. But I'm definitely going to continue to do that. [Agitating opponents] is not going to slip out of my game, but [I'll] just dial it back a little bit."
General manager Peter Chiarelli said he is fine with Marchand wanting to be known more for his goals than his goads, as long as he doesn't forget what got him this far. Marchand projects to be an important part of Boston's best two-way line with Bergeron and newcomer Loui Eriksson, who came from Dallas and will replace Seguin on the right side.
"I don't think it'll affect him being himself. Whenever I talk about him, I talk about balance, and I think the balance shifts as he matures and spends more time in the League," Chiarelli said. "And when that balance shifts, he doesn't have to focus on doing it; he can still maintain that balance but maybe it's a little more natural. If he strays away from it a bit, I don't have a problem with it because he's a good player.
"I think his game has probably matured."
Chiarelli has watched Marchand grow from a third-round pick into a player with Olympic aspirations. The GM rewarded Marchand with a two-year contract extension in September 2011 and again one year later with a four-year extension that starts this season. Marchand's annual salary-cap charge for the Bruins will double to $4.5 million per season, but he said he doesn't think his new contract will cause any problems.
"I think it's all in how you train, how you prepare. I mean just because I got a bigger contract doesn't mean I went home this summer and prepared differently and not trained as hard because I signed a decent-term deal," he said. "I went home, I trained just as hard as I always do. I want to be a part of this team for a long time."