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The Marshmont Affair: Why I am not concerned

August 25, 2011

Breakout 2010-2011 star Brad Marchand remains an unsigned RFA. And this itty-bitty nugget of information sent Bruins fans into either spasms of anxiety or total head-nodding. Marchand’s agent utter the words “nothing is imminent” and “I’m hopeful, but it’s no sure thing.” The distinct possibility of Marchand sitting on the sidelines for camp come September and even sitting out the preseason and beginning of the season are there.

If that’s not posturing by an agent, I don’t know what is. Marchand and Arnott have virtually no leverage at this time; there’s no arbitration, there’s no out. There is the possibility of an offer sheet, but even that is beyond their direct control. He can be signed by the Bruins, or he can sit. Or, the Bruins could conceivably trade him. Most agree a contract in the two to four year range, clocking in between $2.75 and 3.25 million is about where it’s at for Marchand. But given his performance this year, the two may be looking for more. How much more, we don’t know.

In some ways, having just won the Stanley Cup diverted attention everywhere except Marchand. We all knew he needed to be resigned, but the fact of the matter was that watching the parade, seeing the Bruins with the Cup all over the globe and looking forward to the day in October when the banner is raised to the rafters stole us away. Unlike Steven Stamkos and the still waiting Drew Doughty, Marchand had the biggest moment of his career just happen. Bruins fans are not nearly as concerned with his contract, though perhaps they are starting to be.

I am not concerned because a) I think Chiarelli is a master operator, b) Marchand is not Phil Kessel, c) the reasons why it’s taken so long in the first place are peculiar and d) if he cannot be resigned, the Bruins have lots and lots of options at their disposal.

Peter Chiarelli, as the roster will tell you, as locked up an amazing selection of players are reasonable prices. That is no small feat. Chiarelli will be able to convey to Marchand that Boston is his best option–it’s where he’ll play with Bergeron, and be able to play with an edge. And for sentimental reasons alone, it’s where he won a Cup. Chiarelli will not put the club in a precarious position.

Two, the darkest mark on the Bruins and their contract negotiations of late is that of Phil Kessel, who, coincidentally, or not, is also the client of Wade Arnott. Kessel was indeed everything Marchand is not: he lacked ethic, he lacked drive, he lacked perseverance, he didn’t take to adversity well. And, he was traded to the Maple Leafs September 18, 2009, when it became clear the impasse was too severe, cap space didn’t exist, and Kessel simply didn’t want to be a Bruin anymore. Maybe Marchand’s negotiations will go until mid-September: we don’t know. But we do know, as much as that scenario frightens us, Marchand is well-liked and loves being a Bruin. And he’s on record saying as much–about how he’d like to stay with the Bruins.

Next, this has been a summer to remember. Seguin and Marchand romped around Boston for nearly a week. Marchand has been recuperating in his native Nova Scotia and planning his own Cup celebrations. It’s an abnormal summer. Same goes for Neely, Chiarelli et al.: they’ve collectively been busy with the business that comes after winning a Cup. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. And on a related note, not all Cup clubs remain intact. Seeing Kaberle walk because Boston simply wouldn’t offer him the money Carolina did made me a little sad, but, we still won, he still contributed.

Finally, as much as I don’t want to see Marchand walk, because I see him as a Bruin through-and-through, the Bruins have lots of players who could step in if the worst case scenario occurs and he’s traded or captured by an offer sheet. Benoit Pouliot, Tyler Seguin and Jordan Caron make three men for two open spots next season (those vacated by Ryder and Recchi). Maxime Sauve could be moved to wing. Ryan Spooner and Jared Knight are distinct possibilities. The Bruins have some cap wiggle room to trade for an established player.

Brad Marchand was a major component of the Bruins Stanley Cup victory. He is determined and loyal and everything a Bruin should embody. But, if he and his agent are indeed looking for a term and amount for his next contract that places the Bruins in a bad position or is simply unrealistic, he’ll have to sit, or leave.


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