It was a promise so incredible that even its recipient offered a way out. After last season, rookie B’s forward Brad Marchand
sat with General Manager Peter Chiarelli before departing for the summer for the B's customary postseason exit interview.
There wasn’t a sure future for Marchand in the Black & Gold's plans for 2010-11, but the left wing looked Chiarelli in the eye and promised him that he would score 20 goals in the coming season.
“I said ‘Brad, are you serious? Think about what you’re saying,’” Chiarelli recounted. “He says ‘Yeah. I’m going to get you 20.’ I said ‘Alright, I’ll hold you to that.’ And he did.”
Marchand ended the regular season fourth on the team in goals, netting 21 and adding 20 assists for 40 total points. He made his way from the B’s fourth line (Shawn Thornton
and Gregory Campbell
's famous “merlot” line) to the second unit and made himself an important member of the roster with immediate, discernible impact.
The 5’9”, 183 pound forward also quickly established himself as a scrappy agitator, mixing in verbal and physical jabs with his sharp play. It’s a chippy job that suits the Halifax native, adding another dimension to his on-ice performance.
Marchand’s role as an agitator became particularly important in the postseason, when his constant banter and physical presence presented an on-ice opportunity to throw the opposition off their game. Marchad was second on the team in postseason penalty minutes (40), and his status as an agitator is an attribute Marchand is still learning to master, but it’s a source of pride for the Boston center.
“He plays on the edge,” Chiarelli said. “We’ve had to reel him back a couple of times and he appreciates the fact that we do that because he knows that’s his strength and sometimes it’s his weakness.”
Marchand didn’t just step up his instigation in the postseason -- he exploded offensively on the ice. The forward netted 11 playoff goals, second on the team and a new record for a Boston rookie. He added eight assists to fall in third place on the B’s in total postseason points, posting 19 overall. And his +/- rating was 12, tied for third place on the Bruins.
“He rolls off checks so well, he makes good plays, makes good plays with speed. He’s got a great nose for that, he’s got a great shot,” Chiarelli said. “We counted on him going into the playoffs.”
Marchand’s impact on the roster was in full display in Game 7, the last and most important contest of Boston’s season. He scored twice and added an assist in the 4-0 victory, netting the last goal of the game. As that puck sailed into Vancouver’s net, it signaled to the Bruins the club’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years, a trophy cemented by a scrappy rookie’s goal.
It wasn’t the role anyone originally envisioned for 71st overall draft pick in 2006 - except the player himself - but it’s now the role they’ve grown to expect.
“He was obviously a very positive contributor to our team,” Chiarelli said. “He’s learning the trade and [has a] good head on his shoulders, and he knows what he has to do going into next year.” ---Elizabeth Traynor