Brad Marchand had just turned twenty the last time the Carolina Hurricanes were in the Eastern Conference Final. The fine folks of North Carolina knew much about the Boston Bruins prospect then, but over the next two weeks, Marchand may be the Triangles most talked about athlete.
Marchand rolls into the third round of the Stanley Cup playoffs with enough baggage, Santa would be jealous. In only thirteen games, the feisty forward shocked Toronto fans by beating the Maple Leafs without taking a single penalty before sucker punching and stomping Columbus, dropping the mic on reporters on his way out of the rink in the series clincher against the Blue Jackets. Nine years into his NHL career, Marchand has on multiple occasions licked, chirped and slashed the opposition into the fetal position. Never mind the fact, Marchand just posted a career-high 100 point regular season. A double threat, an antagonist during stoppages while improving his point totals year after year. And then he raised the bar again.
It was his post-game interview with Sportsnet’s Kyle Baukaskis after Boston brushed aside the Blue Jackets, that cemented Marchand’s elevation to “most disliked” player in the 2019 playoffs. The Bruin was upset over an earlier interaction between the two in which the reporter made a joke about Marchand’s gamesmanship in the series. The offending question was in a pre-game warmup setting, and Marchand was not impressed. When he was requested for the on-ice interview following the Bruins series-clinching victory, the veteran gave abrupt one-word answers. Kyle Baukaskis was fully prepared for this potential and didn’t flinch by having three questions at the ready.
Marchand must have enjoyed the moment because he carried that behaviour with a different set of media in the traditional post-game scrum in the dressing room. So Brad has his headlines, the media is now among those who have felt his sharp tongue or in this case, Marchand’s economic message sending. Marchand is right in the middle of things, both on and off the ice, and that’s why Carolina should be concerned. This is a player who can dominate a game’s conversation without scoring a point, but can, as exhibited by three separate 3 point games in this post-season, kill the opposition with skill.
Brad Marchand has enough game to compete for the Conn Smythe Trophy, or even a Hart in the next couple of regular seasons. The likely hood is that it probably won’t happen. Those two awards are voted on by the media, I don’t know how many scribes Marchand turned off with his post-game performance against Columbus, but the reality is, winners of those trophies are determined by vote, meaning Marchand is probably not going to get the benefit of the doubt.
Think I’m creating click-bait? Listen to episode five of The Chirp with Daren Millard. It was in that podcast Hall of Fame defenceman Chris Pronger declares he would have won more than two Norris Trophies if he was kinder to the media. Tough to argue with Pronger, after all, he was a dominant enough force that he won a Hart as Most Valuable Player to his team. Pronger makes his argument by pointing out the number of times he was named to year-end all-star teams. His case carries weight.
If Marchand continues to amplify his presence in the 2019 post-season, he will force his way into the conversation for playoff MVP. Long or short winded answers to the media’s questions won’t matter, because if the little pest with the big game is that involved, his play will speak louder than being liked, or snubbed. He will be a two-time champion, and at the end of the day, doesn’t everyone like a winner?