BOSTON (CBS) – It’s easy to imagine Brad Marchand in an opponent’s uniform with boos raining down on him from the TD Garden faithful after a questionable hit or some excessive behavior after a whistle.
Marchand’s irritable ways would make him a modern-day Claude Lemieux or Ulf Samuelsson were he not wearing the black and gold of the Boston Bruins.
Instead, he’s a beloved “squirrel” who the TD Garden fans go nuts for.
There’s another reason to love Marchand other than his pesky actions and his goal-scoring prowess, which returned with his first two goals in six games in December during the Bruins’ 3-0 win over Los Angeles Tuesday night. Marchand’s always up front and accepting of any punishment that comes his way if and when his antics put the Bruins in harm’s way.
Most recently Marchand was fined Monday $2,500 by the NHL for his slew-footing incident with Pittsburgh’s Matt Niskanen last week.
“It is a very fine line and there’s going to be times when you cross it and times when you don’t,” said Marchand after the win over the Kings. “I know what I do; I know there’s consequences. And I’ve dealt with being benched plenty of times throughout my career. It’s nothing new. The big thing is you have to respond and make sure you learn from it. And that’s all I try to do.”
There have been other issues between Marchand and the league, and Marchand with head coach Claude Julien. There was a benching last month after a dumb penalty against New Jersey. There was another benching last season for a similar reason, and a suspension for hitting Columbus’ R.J Umberger from behind.
Each time, Marchand has taken his punishment and almost used it like a rocket flies on fuel.
“I think that’s something you want to be able to do in this league. You want to show that you can learn from mistakes and different things. You want to be able to bounce back and show that it doesn’t affect you and doesn’t bother your game. I haven’t been playing my best of late and it’s nice to kind of bounce back here,” said Marchand.
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Then there’s the least important but still impressive part of Marchand’s character. After any and all incidents, he never shies away from talking about his situation. Even when he sets off a line brawl against Montreal, like he did last winter, he’s more than willing to publicly go into detail about what happened. If his actions hurt the team, he’s contrite. Regardless of what he might be thinking, he never expresses anything but remorse when Julien drops his hammer on the speedy winger.
In a world sometimes lacking accountability, there’s a lot to like about Marchand regardless of whether he’s on your side or not. But that there are plenty who would rather die than root for him is what keeps him going. And that’s his biggest benefit to the Bruins.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com. He operatesTheBruinsBlog.net and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on twitter @TheBruinsBlog.