The Boston Bruins message to Brad Marchand was loud and clear. Clean it up. No more distractions, not more antics, no more licking. None of it. And Marchand – maybe for the first time ever – sounded like he finally got it.
An NHL source confirmed to CLNS Media on Wednesday the Bruins had a heart to heart with Marchand following his latest licking incident and subsequent phone call from the league office following Game 4 of the Conference semis against Tampa.
“The Bruins – from owner down to team leaders made it clear to Brad Marchand that he needs to play his game but with team standards of excellence,” said the source. “And they believe he can and will meet those because they know the person he is. Message sent and received, moving on.”
Following that warning from the league and then Marchand going shot-less and pointless in the Bruins season ending 3-1 loss in Game 5 to the Lightning, there was speculation that “moving on” could mean a potential trade sending the embattled Marchand out of town because the organization was tired of his act, but according to a team source that’s not even an idea at this point.
“Not happening. He knows what he needs to do and he gets it. We know he’ll do it,” the source said.
Speaking to the media at the team breakup media session Wednesday, Marchand sounded like he does finally understand the magnitude of his sideshow actions like the licking and even the over the line plays that earned him suspensions and put his team in an unnecessary hole.
“I need to look myself in the mirror and quit this shit,” he said bluntly.
He then went into a long, honest and introspective session with the reporters. Typically at these end of season locker clean-out media availabilities reporters bounce around from scrum to scrum trying to talk to as many people as they can before the disappear for the offseason. Not today. Reporters hung with Marchand, who acknowledged that maybe his success (consecutive 85 point seasons, three straight 30-goal seasons) may have blinded him from the severity of his actions.
“When you play a certain way with no consequences for 25 years it’s hard to just flip a switch and that will all be gone,” he said. “I haven’t paid enough attention to it because I felt like I could get away with it and never deal with the consequences because I was still being a good player. If I wasn’t having the years that I was having, would I be in the league? I don’t know. Would the Bruins have put up with it? Probably not, if I wasn’t doing what I’m doing on the other side of things. It all comes down to me. I felt like, I don’t know, maybe I took advantage of the situation a little bit more because I didn’t feel the need to change because I was kind of backing it up on the back side of things with producing; but that’s not fair to my teammates and the organization.”
That understanding of how his antics had become selfish was – based on the team’s two biggest leaders’ comments – hammered home in recent days.
“I’m sure that he’s going to have some talks about some of this stuff and make sure that these types of things don’t affect his game and affect his team and he will be better,” captain Zdeno Chara said. “It’s something that he knows, it’s something that doesn’t need to be talked about too much. He’s a very intelligent and very smart guy and he knows that he will make a proper adjustment that these things are not going to be happening.”
Alternate captain, linemate, mentor and friend, Patrice Bergeron echoed Chara’s sentiment and has faith that Marchand can find his way. As Bergeron pointed out, his actions most likely affect the team’s chances of getting power plays and being shorthanded, but he knows Marchand realizes that now.
“I mean, yeah, it’s probably affecting him getting some of the calls sometimes, and you know, he realizes that,” Marchand’s linemate, mentor and friend. “What’s unfortunate also sometimes is that it’s, you know, when you know him on the level that we all know him as players and teammates, it’s unfortunate because he’s a great guy, and we all love him. You know, it’s sometimes the aggressive world, I guess, that we get to see that side of him, but yeah, I think he’s a guy that — he knows. He’s dealt with some consequences in the past and probably in that series and he’s going to learn from it and be a better person and better player as I’m sure he will next year.”
Former teammate, linemate and another mentor, Mark Recchi agreed with Bergeron. That trio won a Stanley Cup together in 2011 – when Marchand had 19 points in 25 games – and Recchi sees a player that could’ve been a Hart Trophy candidate this season if not for his suspensions and walking the wrong side of that thin line he toes.
“He needed to do that stuff to make it but he’s past that point now,” Recchi said. “He doesn’t need to be an agitator anymore or do some of that stuff he’s been doing. He’s an elite superstar in this league and everyone in the league knows it. He could’ve been a Hart Trophy candidate this season if not for the suspensions and the other stuff. He knows that based on what he said [Wednesday] and I know he’ll correct it.”
Marchand seems intent on making the change and being the player his closest allies believe he is even if it may mean chopping down the points.
“I’m at a point now where if you look at the last few years, if I have to cut out that edge and be off 15-20 points, then maybe it’s worth it,” Marchand pointed out. “I don’t have answers right now though, those are all things we have to work on. It’s something I have to work on over the summer, but it’s not something that’s gonna happen over the next six months. It may happen in a year or two, who knows? But if it can save me and kind of turn it around for the last half of my contract, then it’s going to be worth it.
“Now I’m in a position where I don’t need to do that,” he continued. “I’ll never say it didn’t get me in the league, because it did. I got here playing a certain way and I’ll never look back and say I wish I changed it, because I don’t. I wouldn’t be here if I did, but at the end of the day, I don’t need that anymore. I’m in a different position, different player and different time in my career and it’s also a different game. It’s a much different game than it was back then. It was played a different way; it was coached and reffed a different way and you were allowed to get away with different things, so you need to adapt to the new game.”
Now it’s time to put the actions to words and prove one hall of famer in Recchi and two futures in Chara and Bergeron right.