Stanley Cup Suspense: And A Nod to Brad Marchand
It’s been a mad rush up to the 2019 Stanley Cup: for the first time in NHL history, all of the division winners were eliminated in the first round, all of the wildcards advanced, and the President’s Trophy winning Tampa Bay Lightning were swept by the first-time playoff winner Columbus Blue Jackets.
So, as the Boston Bruins and the St. Louis Blues gear up for the last games of the Stanley Cup Final, we want to give a special shout out to Bruins winger Brad Marchand. Because in a world where the average player is 6’1” and 204 pounds, you might think that it would be hard for a guy who clocks in at 5’9” 181 to stand out…but you would be wrong.
Even when he’s standing next to team captain Zdeno Chara.
Here are nine stand-out facts about the shortest powerhouse in the Stanley Cup Finals:
- Brad Marchand’s name is already on the Stanley Cup. In 2011, the Bruins slammed to victory, in large part because of Marchand’s 19 points scored in 25 games. But after the game, he didn’t do anything too weird on his day out. Eating an entire box of Cinnamon Toast Crunch out of the Stanley Cup? Yeah. But he didn’t get it stuck to the bottom of a swimming pool, drop kick it into a frozen canal, or use it to baptize a kid, so the off-ice antics were pretty tame. (Unless you’re the sort of germaphobe who knows that the Stanley Cup has also been a receptacle for Kris Draper’s infant daughter’s leaky diaper, Red Kelly’s infant son’s leaky diaper, Kentucky Derby winner Go for Gin’s oats, Clark Gillies’ dog’s kibble, the collective urine of the 1941 Rangers team…and a few other unsavory things that might put you right off your Cinnamon Toast Crunch.)
- And Marchand was briefly a “Stanley Cup Champian.” Really. After the 2011 win, a few guys decided to get Stanley Cup tattoos in the locker room (which is always a good idea) …but Marchand’s had a little spelling issue…The artist tweaked it afterwards, but the error is still visible.
- For a Canadian, he’s not very nice. To be fair, hockey has a reputation for direct brutality that you don’t see in most other team sports. But it’s also the only major sport with four different good conduct awards: for “sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct” (Lady Byng), “perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey” (Bill Masterton Memorial), “great leadership qualities, on and off the ice” (Bridgestone Mark Messier), and applying “the core values of hockey—commitment, perseverance, and teamwork—to enrich the lives of people in his community” (NHL Foundation). Yet even in this sport for violent gentlemen, there are a handful of players who go out of their way to stir things up on the ice. And Marchand may be the king of the pests: racking up a consistent roster of fines (totaling $20k) and suspensions (17 days) for elbowing, slew-footing, predatory low-bridge hitting, clipping, tripping, and cross-checking. You mess with his teammates, and Marchand will take you down. In the words of numerous sportscasters: “Everyone wants him on their team, and no one wants to play against him.”
- Marchand likes to shake things up on this ice. While mind games are common in any sport, Marchand took it to a new level in the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals, when he famously got in Ryan Callahan’s face…with his tongue…prompting the unprecedented headline: “NHL reportedly asked Brad Marchand to stop licking other players.” When asked about the move later, he memorably said: “I thought this would definitely piss him off.”
And so it did. You know that you’re having an impact when the NHL has to think up new rules to counter your antics.
- He has a lot of nicknames. While his teammates might affectionately call him “Marchy,” or nod to his insanely fearless tenacity with the moniker “Honeybadger,” sportscasters call him “the man everyone loves to hate,” while opponents (and opposing fans) know him better as “the Rat,” “the Little Ball of Hate,” “Little Troll Doll,” or the “Nose Face Killa’.” More recently, social-media-savvy hockey fans have started to use three fire emojis as shorthand for Marchand’s name. Because…yeah.
- The man can dress…up. The Bruins have made it a tradition to visit kids at the Boston Children’s Hospital in costume for Halloween and Christmas, and Marchand has been a regular participant. While his Prince Charming costume may have been a touch ironic (and overshadowed by Zado Chara’s nearly 7’ pink bunny costume), his choice to go as Splinter was definitely a playful dig at the fans who still know him best as “the Rat.”
- Marchand has a sense of humor about his on-ice reputation. In addition to the Splinter “Rat” gig, Marchand has been caught happily posing with Lightning fans who wish him nothing but misery.
- He talks a lot of trash…and sometimes for the greater good. While Marchand is known for having quite the mouth on the ice, he’s also been known to take down bullies off the ice. In 2016, he shut down a Twitter troll who made homophobic slurs, calling out the offender, and reposting a screenshot of the Tweet to hold the sender accountable when he tried to quietly delete it. Later, Marchand released a press statement in support of the LGBTQ community. When asked if the NHL would accept an openly gay player, he responded with total affirmation: “We’re a team in the [dressing] room and a family. It doesn’t matter what different beliefs guys have, or where they come from, or whatever the case may be. Guys would accept it. Again, in the room we’re a family. That’s the way it is on a hockey team, and that’s the way it will always be.”
- Off the ice, he’s known as a stable, dedicated family man. But sometimes the lines cross, and one of the most hated guys in hockey causes an “awwwww” moment when he snaps some memorable pics with his wife Katrina Sloane, stepson Brad, and new baby girl.
Because, if there’s one sport where loyalty and determination, courtesy and violence, trash-talking and surprising generosity all come together…that’s the NHL.
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