That final announcement came on Friday evening, with Marchand joining Patrice Bergeron on Team Canada’s squad for the much anticipated World Cup of Hockey 2016, taking place from Sept. 17 - Oct.1 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto.
Eight teams will compete in the two-week tournament with 23-man rosters comprised of 173 NHL players in total.
In addition to Marchand and Bergeron, six other Bruins are on World Cup of Hockey rosters, including Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg on Team Europe, Loui Eriksson on Team Sweden, David Krejci and David Pastrnak on Team Czech Republic, and Tuukka Rask on Team Finland. Head Coach Claude Julien will also be part of Team Canada's coaching staff.
“It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada,” Marchand said on a conference call with media Friday evening. “It’s something that I think we all take a lot of pride in, and something that is — it’s not an easy accomplishment.”
“It’s not something you get to do very often, and to have that opportunity twice this year is very special,” continued Marchand, who recently earned a gold medal with Team Canada in Russia at his first-ever IIHF Men’s World Championship. “And it’s not something I take for granted.”
Marchand finished the tournament with four goals and three assists in 10 games.
“It was a very special experience to be over in Russia and to be part of that team and it’s a dream come true to be part of this World Cup team,” he said. “You know, the players who are on that list and the guys we’re going to be playing against, it’s an incredible feeling and I’m very happy to be a part of this team.”
While Marchand didn’t head over to Russia with his sights on the World Cup spot — he just wanted to continue playing hockey — he began to think about the possibility once he was playing for Team Canada.
“I think being part of a winning team and having the opportunity to play and having a decent tournament, I think that definitely might have played into it,” said Marchand. “I don’t know, but I think the fact that you get that experience and you learn what Hockey Canada’s about.”
“Being over there and getting comfortable with the guys that are potentially on the team — some are — and the management tea, and everyone around, and I think it definitely helps. I’m very happy that I went over there. It was a huge honor and I had a great time.”
The roster selection for the 28-year-old Marchand comes on the heels of a career-best NHL season, in which he established career-highs in goals (37) and points (60) in 2015-16. His 37 goals ranked sixth in the NHL and were the most by a Bruins player since Glen Murray (44) in 2002-03.
“I think being part of a team like this is on a different level,” said Marchand. “And people may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that.”
“But regardless, that’s not why I play the game — I play it to help our team win and just because I love the game.”
The nature of any international event creates the unique opportunity for players to compete alongside their NHL nemeses. Marchand has had his fair share of run-ins on the ice in his past seven seasons with Boston.
For example, over in Russia, he and Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher found a way to put their NHL allegiances aside, and became fast friends off the ice.
“Sometimes, when you first go over there and you’re in that first stage of meeting everyone, I might be a little tentative to meet guys,” admitted Marchand. “I know that when they first are in the room with me or are first meeting me, they’re expecting me to be a bad guy off the ice, too, and I think just when guys get to know me, they realize that I’m not off the ice the way I am on the ice and you start to warm up to one another, and that’s the same thing the other way around.”
“When you play with guys you compete with, I think anyone in the league will say that 99 percent of the guys in the league are great guys off the ice, and we all get along. We have so much in common. When we get together in a group like that, everyone becomes friends really quickly.”
Prior to Worlds, Marchand had not competed for Team Canada’s national team since winning gold with the 2007 and 2008 World Juniors squads. He also earned a bronze medal with Team Canada Atlantic at the 2005 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.
While the international tournaments, including the recent World Championship, are played on the larger ice sheet, the World Cup will take place on NHL ice in the Maple Leafs’ home.
“With regards to in Europe and on the European ice or the Olympic ice, it’s a different game. It’s not as intense as it is on the smaller ice. You just have more room. It’s not as physical,” said Marchand. “But in this tournament, the World Cup, it’s going to be very intense.”
“I mean, you’re playing against the top players in the world. Every game’s going to be a battle. Everyone is competing to be the best team in the world and there’s a ton of pride to be that team, and guys are going to do whatever they can to win.”
“So they’re doing to be very intense games, definitely a lot of emotion in them, and they’re going to be incredible games to watch.”
It will be a shorter offseason of training for Marchand, who just finished up his time at the World Championship, and will gear up for the World Cup by starting to skate a few weeks earlier than usual.
“I think it will add a little more excitement going into the season for the fans and get them excited about early on in September,” said Marchand. “So I think it’s going to be great. I think a lot of people are really looking forward to it and it’s going to be an exciting time in Toronto.”