BOSTON -- Brad Marchand has gotten in trouble before. He has been controversial before. The Boston Bruins left wing has been suspended, fined, talked to by his teammates and by the NHL.
But after incidents when he licked Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov in the Eastern Conference First Round and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan in the second round, Marchand said he needs to change.
"It's one thing when it's bringing some heat down on myself, but when you start bringing some heat to the team and the organization and being a distraction, that's when it hits you a little bit harder," Marchand said Wednesday. "So yeah, it's tougher when you start to disappoint the team and everyone. That's a bit of a wake-up call."
Marchand wasn't penalized for his actions but did have a lengthy conversation with NHL senior executive vice president of hockey operations Colin Campbell on Saturday, the day after the incident with Callahan, about the issue.
In a statement posted to the NHL Public Relations verified Twitter account, "The League put the player on notice that his actions last night (May 4, in Game 4 against the Lightning) are unacceptable and similar behavior in the future will be dealt with by way of supplemental discipline."
Marchand has been suspended six times, most recently for five games for elbowing New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson on Jan 23. Marchand also has been fined three times and is considered a repeat offender under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement.
He has expressed similar sentiments of contrition previously and said this would be different.
"I know I've said that in the past," Marchand said of needing to be better. "But I think that's got to be the thing that I really work on the most. I think I've gotten my game into a pretty decent spot, but I've got some character things and things that I've done that clearly need some fixing."
Marchand said that at the time he did not think his playoff behavior would be a big deal. But then he saw it spiral out of his control, becoming a topic that was discussed throughout hockey and that could have been a distraction for the Bruins and his teammates during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He said he did not believe it affected his play during Game 5 against the Lightning on Sunday, a 3-1 loss that ended the Bruins' season, though he admitted he did not have his best game.
He was assessed a penalty for embellishment at 12:04 of the first period that negated a power-play chance for the Bruins because Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman had been called for holding Marchand.
Marchand has tried to take on a leadership role the past few seasons, including as an alternate captain a few times. But he said that he knows it's not possible to advance if he continues along the path he traveled during the postseason.
Video: BOS@TBL, Gm1: Marchand nets nifty redirection goal
"That's been something I've wanted to work towards the last few years, try to work more into that role, but I've got to figure some [stuff] out before that's really going to happen, to get to that next level where [Patrice Bergeron] and [Zdeno Chara] and [David Krejci] and [David Backes] are," Marchand said. "I've got to get rid of that stuff. The next few years, I think my biggest thing is to make a turnaround more in the character side of things than my game."
His game is fine. Marchand has become one of the best left wings in the NHL, on one of the best lines in the NHL. He has three straight 30-goal seasons, including 34 in 68 games this season. Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov, Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and St. Louis Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko are the only other players to score at least 30 each of the past three seasons.
"He's always been playing on the edge and that's what got him to this point," Chara said. "He is one of the best left wingers in the League. He's got to realize that his contribution on the ice for this team is very important. … You can't really blame him because he's such a strong, competitive guy, but definitely something that he realized he needs to get better and he will."
Marchand said he needs to leave that edge behind, even though he knows any transition won't come quickly or easily.
"There's a difference between having an edge and being stupid," he said. "I think that's the biggest thing. … I got here playing a certain way and I'll never look back and say that I wish I [could] change it because I don't because I wouldn't be here. But at the end of the day I don't need that anymore. I'm in a different position, different player, different time in my career."
So he can leave these incidents behind and still score 35 goals?
"Even if I drop to 25 [goals] but I cut the [stuff] out, it's worth it," Marchand said.