With such production can come significant expectations, from fans, teammates, coaches – and the player himself.
Brad Marchand, however, is not intent on creating such an outlook for himself. Sure, he would be thrilled with replicating his career-high goal total, but being himself is what he will be focused on first and foremost.
If he is, the goals and points will follow.
“It is a high bar,” said the Bruins winger, who along with linemate Patrice Bergeron and Bruins prospect Matt Grzelcyk skated in their first captain’s practice Thursday morning, joining Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug, David Krejci, Frank Vatrano, John-Michael Liles, and Matt Beleskey.
“The main thing is to try not to chase it. I think when you chase something like that, things can go wrong and you stop playing the game the right way. I think I’m not so much focused on hitting that number as I am playing a good game and being a good player for the team, being strong defensively, and playing my role the way they want me to do it.”
Marchand’s offensive outburst (37-23--60 in 77 games) certainly helped him gain more respect across the hockey world and ultimately secure a spot on Team Canada for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which kicks off in Toronto later this month.
At 5 feet, 9 inches and 181 pounds, he has long been known as more of an agitator with a strong scoring touch. After last season, though, that reputation appears to have flipped.
Marchand played for Canada at the IIHF Men’s World Championship in May, collecting four goals (third on the team) and three assists in 10 games. His strong performance at the tournament, coupled with his elite 2015-16 season, made him a hard player for Canada to pass up.
“I’m extremely excited,” said Marchand. “It’s one of the biggest stages you can play on. It’s going to be a very fun tournament, very competitive. I’m really looking forward to playing.”
Canada’s training camp kicks off next week, with the tournament set to begin Sept. 17, meaning Marchand – and the other participating Bruins – will miss much of the Black & Gold’s own camp.
“I wanted to come in and try to get situated before I left,” said Marchand, who will represent Canada along with Bergeron and Bruins coach Claude Julien, an assistant to head coach Mike Babcock. “I was down here for a couple weeks and then I went back home for a camp. But I wanted to come down and get set up, get my car down here and all my stuff I took home for summer, see the guys, and skate here before I left.”
When Marchand does return to the Bruins at the beginning of October, he will turn his attention towards getting his team back into the playoffs after a two-year hiatus. The upcoming season will be his eighth in the NHL, and after how the last two ended, he realizes now – more than ever – how important every point is during an 82-game season.
“Each year, you’re missing the playoffs by a point or two. Last year, we were tied and we still didn’t get in,” said Marchand. “You need to feel that hunger and desire, and the desperation from the first day of the season…even going 0-3 last year to start off.
“We’ve got to be more consistent. We know that. It’s a learning game. But that’s where that adversity comes in and guys have to be willing to battle through it and do what they have to do to get out of that hole.”
Marchand believes that the lack of any postseason hockey over the last two springs has led to a new level of hunger for the Bruins.
“I think we’re all looking forward to the season and improving on last year,” he said. “There are going to be new opportunities for guys and different guys coming in. I think there’s a lot of excitement going into this season.”
Marchand enters the season in the final year of his contract, but the 28-year-old is not concentrating on any potential off-ice distractions.
“This is an incredible organization and I think one that we’re all very fortunate to be part of,” said Marchand. “It would be great to be able to be here my whole career. But a lot of things have to line up for that happen, not only now but also down the road. So we’ll play it year-by-year.
“I’m really excited about the upcoming season and what’s ahead. We have a few new additions that are really going to help our team…I think first and foremost, this season is on my mind and we’ll deal with years after that down the road.”
The fact that Marchand is even in position for a substantial new contract, or to build on a 37-goal season, are accomplishments he never expected to attain. As a result, he wants to make sure he is enjoying every moment.
“I never really expected to be here,” said Marchand. “You need the work ethic, you need the breaks, and you need to perform at the right time. I think I’ve had a lot of things come together the right way and it’s nice to be at that next level.
“It’s a lot of work to stay there. It’s one thing to get there, but it’s another to stay there, so we’ll see if we can maintain it.”