A visit from the Boston Bruins means a visit by a recent entry to my list of most hated players, Brad Marchand. He reminds me of a guy by the name of Ken Linesman who played from the late 1970's into the early 1990's and was nicknamed "The Rat." It was based on his appearance and the way he played. Listed at a non-intimidating 5 foot 11 inches and 187 pounds, Linesman was known to both run his mouth and agitate many a player by playing well over the edge. Whenever your team faced him, you just wanted someone to tell Linesman to shut the heck up and then pound him into oblivion. Marchand, who is all of 5 foot 9 inches and 183 pounds, is the same guy. But he does have skill and as much as I despise him, he's one of those guys you can't stand until your team picks him up and then you love the guy.
Now in his second full season in the NHL, I didn't notice him much last year during the regular season although he did score his first NHL goal against Jhonas Enroth and the Sabres. It was a solid rookie campaign for the Bruins third round pick in the 2006 draft as he ended up with 21 goals and 20 assists. You couldn't help but notice him during Boston's run to the Stanley Cup. Not bothered at all by the playoff pressure, Marchand scored 11 goals and had 19 points in 25 games. He ratcheted up the agitation level too. Marchand picked up 40 penalty minutes in those 25 games. Pretty impressive when you realize he was only 11 minutes away from his regular season total and it came in 52 fewer games. Boston was 9-0 in playoff games when Marchand scored as goal and he had a pair in their game seven Cup clinching win over Vancouver.
There have been a number of incidents in his young career that have led to opposing fans wanting to put his picture on a dartboard. Last season he angered fans of the Montreal Canadiens by calling their team a bunch of divers. Leafs fans probably won't forget Marchand pantomiming a golf swing at the Toronto bench to remind them they weren't going to the playoffs. Did he steal that from Andrew Peters? Sabre fans, you might remember what happened in the game back on November 23rd, the first meeting between the two teams since the Ryan Miller-Milan Lucic incident. Shortly after being hit hard in a collision with Thomas Vanek, Marchand scored a goal that put Boston up 3-2 and he promptly yelled a few choice words at Vanek and the bench.
Marchand has paid for some of his over the edge play. Earlier this season he was suspended by the league for five games for clipping Vancouver's Sami Salo. A month before that he was fined for slew footing Pittsburgh defenseman Matt Niskanen. In game six of the Finals with Vancouver last season he landed half a dozen jabs to the face of Canucks star Daniel Sedin, drawing a roughing minor and a misconduct. When he was asked after the game why he did it, Marchand said "because I felt like it." Like I said with Linesman, you just want someone to tell Marchand to shut the heck up and then pound him into oblivion. During the Bruins recent visit to the White House where they were honored for winning the Cup, President Obama jokingly referred to Marchand as a "little ball of hate". I'm sure someone wrote the President's remarks and no doubt they consulted a hockey fan because "little ball of hate" describes Marchand to a tee.