Brad Marchand opens up on the art of being a pest in Players' Tribune

<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/nhl/players/4351/" data-ylk="slk:Brad Marchand">Brad Marchand</a> has undeniable skill, but he might be most famous for his antics as an agitator. (NBC Sports)
Brad Marchand has undeniable skill, but he might be most famous for his antics as an agitator. (NBC Sports)

There are very few players in the National Hockey League that evoke the emotional response Brad Marchand does. The pesky Bruins forward is someone you either love, hate, or love to hate. On Thursday, Marchand released an article in the Players’ Tribune titled ‘Built for Boston,’ explaining that his irksome tendencies are nothing new.

The first story the Halifax, Nova Scotia native shares is from his childhood. There was a kid from Marchand’s neighbourhood who took his electric four-wheel truck and was driving away in it.

“He takes off. He’s driving around our garage, laughing. I’m fuming, man. This little rat is driving around my truck, in my driveway, honking my horn, you know? After about 30 seconds, I couldn’t take it anymore. I jumped right in front of the truck and put my hand out, like, “You’ll have to run me over.”

He stopped, and I shoved the kid right out of the front seat. Yoink.

He was on the ground crying, being a real baby about it, like, “Whyyyyyy.”

I went riding off into the cul-de-sac, honking the horn. My mom says I had this little smirk on my face, too.”

Has anything changed? Nope. Not a single thing. The same kid who was smiling after he pushed a neighbourhood kid off his truck is the same kid who will give his opponent an extra jab and skate away as if nothing happened.

But as there is in many great stories, in Marchand’s there is a master, the person who taught him everything he knows. Growing up, the All-Star forward drew inspiration to be a pest from his slightly younger brother. I am sure anybody who has a younger sibling knows exactly what he is talking about.

“He was the original pest. He was my inspiration. We’d be out on the lake, shoveling snow for like two hours, and he’d claim that he had to do his science homework or something ridiculous like that. But of course he’d be inside on the computer typing away on AIM to some girl he liked. “Hey, hehe, lol. O.K. babe, BRB.”

Then, miraculously, just as we were done shoveling off the last bit of snow, I’d see his little head pop up in the back window. He’d come out with his stick, like, “Hey, you guys done? Let’s play.”

What a little runt. He was incredible. I respected his craft, honestly.”

If Marchand is willing to label you a ‘little runt,’ then that surely qualifies you as a bonafide pest.

Playing in Boston since 2010-2011, Marchand has shared the locker room with many great Bruins. The one he notes as the best he has ever played with is Bruins centre, Patrice Bergeron.

“Nobody is willing to give more of himself for his teammates. I’ll never forget the first time I was training with him in the summer, and of course, I’m like, “I’m an animal. I’m good. Let’s go.” We were doing some crazy thing — running up hills until we dropped or something. And one of the younger guys was on the ground, just dying. We were all dying. And the young guy said, “All right, I’m done. I can’t.”

And Patrice immediately got up and said, “I’m doing more.”

He started walking back down the hill to do another round, and we all followed him. And the young guy couldn’t help it. He had to get up and do more. If Patrice was doing more, we were doing more. When a guy is willing to play with a punctured lung for his team,  you’re willing to do anything for him.

This team has embraced me and helped me grow from a player who was looked at as an instigator, to a player who can put up 30+ goals and 80+ points a season (and still drive you up a wall, if needed). They’ve trusted me to play on Bergy’s wing, and that’s something I take really seriously. I’ll never be the best guy on the ice every night. That’s impossible while number 37 is out there. I just hold myself accountable to be second-best.”

Whether you like him or not, it is fair to say the Bruins forward has established himself as the second-best player on the team. Over the past two NHL seasons, Brad Marchand is tied with Evgeni Malkin for fourth in points across the league. While the agitator is surely skilled enough to drop all of the antics, he likely never will.

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