One of the more controversial players in the NHL over the last decade has been Bruins left winger, Brad Marchand. Marchand began playing full time for the Bruins during their 2010-2011 Stanley Cup winning campaign. Despite an impressive offensive rookie season, Marchand became a household name for his on-ice antics. Marchand plays on the edge, and many looked over his skills because of that.
A Little Ball of Hate
One of the more iconic moments in the 2011 Stanley Cup final was when Marchand repeatedly punched Canuck’s forward Daniel Sedin. This incident was just one example of the many ways Marchand got under the skin of his opponents. His style of play even earned him the nickname of “Little Ball of Hate” from Barack Obama.
Marchand’s style of play did not earn him many friends outside of Boston. Players, coaches, analysist, and fans all expressed their hatred of Marchand. Many felt he had no place in the NHL due to his dirty playstyle. It did not help that Marchand has racked up several suspensions over his career.
Typically players with playstyles like Marchand do not last very long in the NHL. Many would claim that “agitators” like Marchand make up for their lack of skill by annoying the opponents. Marchand is different though. Since 2015, Marchand has been one of the best left wingers in the NHL.
Currently among active left wingers in the NHL, the only player to have scored more points than Marchand in one season is Alex Ovechkin. Besides Marchand and Ovechkin, no other current left wingers have scored 100 points or more in a season. Flash back almost a decade ago and the idea that Marchand’s skill would be grouped together with Ovechkin’s would be crazy. Watching Marchand play now and there is no doubt he is one of the best in the NHL.
Marchand had his breakout year in 2015-2016. Being a consistent 20 goal scorer for most of his career, Marchand shattered expectations in 2015-2016. Scoring 37 goals that season, Marchand led a Bruins team struggling for identity. Since that season, Marchand has not let off the gas, only missing the 30 goal mark twice due to the two shortened seasons due to COVID.
Besides his skill, Marchand’s leadership ability also improved during this span. Being one of the longest tenured Bruins, Marchand understood his role as a leader. Along with his line mate, centreman Patrice Bergeron, Marchand has lead the Bruins to considerable success over the past half decade.
Should Marchand Get In?
Marchand currently sits 43rd all-time in career points for NHL left wingers. With no signs of slowing down, Marchand will most likely continue to climb in the record books. While he does not have the resume of Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, Marchand has made a name for himself. Marchand is has arguably been one of the defining players in this generation of the NHL.
Not only does Marchand have skills on the ice, but his leadership has also helped to lead an historic NHL franchise. His antics may detract from his skill according to some, but it could be argued that he has defined this style of play. Marchand has left his mark on the NHL, there is no reason why he should not at least be considered a candidate for the Hall of Fame.
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