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Brad Marchand: Reining in expectations

July 18, 2011

 

Hold it up, folks.

You know, Stamkos and Doughty aren’t only restricted free agents out there waiting to have a deal finalized.

There’s also that little man, number 63, that one that plays for the Bruins and scored twice in the game seven final.

Well, he’s still unsigned.

I don’t think he’s still partying it up in Boston. In all likelihood he’s back in his native Nova Scotia. In a short period of time, he became a Bruins favorite. He was called “Marshmont” by some, “Nose Face Killah” by others. He became a celebrity. Diminutive in frame, huge in personality. He has been embraced by the fanbase and solidified as Bruin, despite remaining without a new contract, in a way few other Bruins are, with the exception of Lucic and Bergeron, perhaps. At this time, nearly the entire Bruins roster, just by virtue of winning the Cup, has been so ingratiated with the organization and the city, they seem nearly inseparable. I suppose Chicago’s fire-sale refutes the notion there’s any post-Cup love.

But I’d like to think Marchand is different. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli has made it clear he’s not going anywhere. I don’t doubt him. But there’s business to be done.

I’ve said this before, but a reasonable contract, three years in length, at between $2.8 to $3.5 is in order. It’s a slight hometown discount, but it helps balance the Bruins’ cap space, prepares for future resignings (ahem, Krejci, David) and also, most importantly, it allows us to see where Marchand will go in the future.

He had a breakout rookie season (with some appearances in the big-show before, it still somehow doesn’t feel right calling him “rookie). He had an astonishing playoffs. He will be a Bruin.

But tempering expectations and waiting to see how he develops is crucial, both in terms of his contract, but as a fanbase. One of the best things about Marchand is his temper, his emotion, and his volatility (punching Daniel Sedin, anyone?). He is fast and he can score, too. Especially shorthanded. But the emotion with which he plays is what stands out, and it has gotten him into trouble, time and again. Whether it’s in the box, or in the minds of the referees, he has often found himself on the losing end of matters on the ice. He takes bad penalties at bad times. Plain and simple. That’s part of Brad Marchand’s identity, but I fear heading into his sophomore season he may incorporate the rough-stuff and borderline hits into his game even more. Moving him from the fourth line to the second transformed his game and allowed him to flourish. That decision, which became permanent some time around December, was one of Julien’s best. But the attitude and energy of Marchand, the fourth liner, prevailed. I see that carrying through, and it may need to be directed elsewhere by more senior players. Recchi often joked about how he’d have to tell Marchand to calm down. Someone will need to assume that role this year. And finally, the slump that afflicts both sophomores and post-Cup teams will be present. Marchand’s output may not be on the level of this season.

Of course, I could be entirely wrong. He could breakout better than ever. But I think the scenario described above is far more likely.

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