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Bruins

Kalman: Marchand Cashes In, Now Must Prove He’s Worth The Money

By Matt Kalman, CBS Boston
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Brad Marchand celebrates his goal in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Brad Marchand celebrates his goal in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

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Boston Bruins

BOSTON (CBS) — NHL players often talk about the dream like they have getting paid enormous sums of money to play the game that they love.

Brad Marchand today again found out what a luxurious life those skating in the world’s highest league get to enjoy. For reward for his two years of NHL service, and 49 goals scored in those two seasons, Marchand nearly doubled his annual average income with the extension he signed with Boston.

In the words of Yakov Smirnoff, “What a country!” — or more appropriately, what a league. Marchand is entering the final year of a two-year deal that has and will pay him $2.5 million per season. The new deal, which kicks in for the 2013-14 season, will pay him $4.5 million for four seasons in black and gold.

Obviously, there’s more to Marchand’s game than just the goals scored. But in order to make this deal worth the Bruins’ while, Marchand’s going to have to take every aspect of his game to another level, including how many times he lights the lamp.

The rambunctious Marchand might have as many insulting nicknames, mostly given to him by opposing players and fans, as he’s recorded NHL points. Whether you call him “Honey Badger” or “Nose Face Killer” or you make up something else completely different, the Bruins are banking on calling him a top-six forward well into the second half of this decade.

The track record thus far in the NHL – 21 goals as a rookie, 28 as a sophomore – says Marchand’s well on his way. However, then you get into the other side of Marchand. There have been games head coach Claude Julien has had to pin one of his fastest players and best penalty killers to the bench because of undisciplined or foolish play. The NHL has also had its share of issues with Marchand over the years. There’s no doubt NHL discipline czar Brendan Shanahan has Marchand in his phone’s contacts.

To general manager Peter Chiarelli, Marchand’s maturation and production made the Nova Scotia native a solid bet worth investing the big bucks in at 24 years old.

“I like the whole package,” said Chiarelli, who spoke about Marchand while the player was out moose hunting with his father. “He went through some stuff last year with a couple of incidents and through the disciplinary process, where we engaged in a couple philosophical discussions with that office. So I think Brad recognizes … that part of his game as being a valuable part of his game. And he’s a smart enough player that as you get older and learn the ropes a little bit more, you can tweak your game a little bit.

“I think last year, Brad had a good year last year, but I know he had some struggles (with disciplinary things). So he will continue to learn how to draw that fine line, and he’s certainly aware of it and the line has moved a little bit. But I like the whole package.”

Marchand’s “whole package” still lacks a few things. He’s not much of a power play producer (which isn’t saying much on the Bruins) and he’s not a banger. So now that he’s being paid like a star, Marchand’s going to have to keep adding to his scoring totals and also make sure he’s called to the principal’s office at least once a season to prove that he’s pushed up against the imaginary discipline line enough that depending on your perspective, he may or may not cross it with his play.

Marchand took advantage of the current NHL collective bargaining agreement to the tune or a long-term commitment and hefty raise based on a short resume. Now it’s up to him to prove the Bruins made the right bet.

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.

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