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For Gabrielle, Marchand is the Perfect Blueprint

Forward prospect tries to model his game after his idol

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

Boston Bruins Training Camp is presented by AT&T.

BOSTON - Wreaking havoc during a National Hockey League game is an art form.

There is no right or wrong way to accomplish it. It can be done with speed and skill, or size and strength - or simply with the words that come out of a player's mouth.

Brad Marchand has built a career on threading the needle between being a dynamic offensive talent and a superb agitator. The combination has made him a player loathed by opponents but adored by his teammates.

And it is that proper blend of ability and mischief that B's forward prospect Jesse Gabrielle is seeking as he attempts to forge his way onto the Bruins roster.

Since being selected by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, the Saskatchewan native has modeled his style of play after Marchand and has often looked for guidance from Boston's All-Star winger. And this training camp has been the perfect opportunity for the 20-year-old to pick the brain of his idol, who Gabrielle believes is the perfect blueprint for the type of player he would like to become.

"I try to learn from him," said Gabrielle, who is entering his first pro season after notching 35 goals and 29 assists - to go along with 88 penalty minutes - in 61 games for Prince George of the WHL last season.

"He's my favorite player and I try to emulate my game after him. I just try to be a sponge around him. When you can watch him play and experience it and have him on the bench….I'm just trying to be a sponge and learn from him."

Such was the case on Thursday night after the Bruins 2-1 preseason victory over the Flyers.

Following a strong game in which Gabrielle's speed and strength was on full display, the 6-foot, 205-pound winger was sent to the dressing room in the third period after a disagreement with the officials over an interference penalty. It was not the end to the night Gabrielle had planned.

"It was fun up until you get over that line just a little bit," said Gabrielle, who had two shots on goal in just over 10 minutes of ice time against the Flyers, while playing on a line with Riley Nash and Noel Acciari.

"The whole game it was going good. I was getting underneath a lot of their guys' skin. A lot of NHL guys were coming after me and it was a lot of fun. Like I said, it's just a learning experience. You live and you learn. It's not going to happen again."

Part of Gabrielle's education was seeking out his idol after the game.

"I went up to [Marchand] after the game and talked to him about it," said Gabrielle, "and he said, 'You just got to find that line.' He said, 'You're going to get caught sometimes and you just got to learn from it.'"

Marchand understands the quandary Gabrielle faces. As a young player trying to break into the NHL on a full-time basis, he too battled the challenges of not crossing the line. He did not always succeed.

"For sure, especially early on," Marchand said when asked if he saw similarities between himself and Gabrielle. "He's doing whatever he has to do to open some eyes and make a name for himself and he's good at what he does. He had the whole team [the Flyers] hating on him. He had a couple 2-on-1 opportunities, almost scored a goal. He did everything that he was supposed to do.

"I was the same way coming up. You just try to find your little niche that makes you different from other players and he definitely has that."

Video: Gabrielle talks about looking up to Marchand

Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy was hesitant to anoint Gabrielle as a Marchand progeny. But he certainly sees the similarities.

"Gets on top of pucks and disrupts the forecheck, very similar to March," said Cassidy. "He's got a good shot. He wants to be an agitator, so it is a good comparison. It's a little premature, but for Jesse - for anybody - it's a good player to emulate, a guy that fought his way out of the American Hockey League to the NHL, played on a lower line and worked his way up and just wouldn't be denied. Definitely a good role model for him."

That is not to say, however, that Cassidy would like to see a repeat of Thursday night anytime soon.

"It happened in Development Camp, so here's a guy who walks on the edge, and I thought played a very good hockey game [Thursday]," Cassidy said of Gabrielle. "At ice level, he had a few other guys frustrated. If that is what makes him tick and he can stay on the right side of the line, then we're OK with it.

"But clearly he crossed it [against the Flyers]. I think if as a young guy, you try to take on the officials in the National Hockey League, you are going to lose, and he lost tonight."

After taking some time to reflect following the game - which included his talk with Marchand - Gabrielle certainly realized that.

"That's something that can't happen," said Gabrielle. "I can't let the boys down like that. Especially when it's a tie game. It's just stuff you move past and learn from it."

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