BRIGHTON, MASS — Brad Marchand exited the practice early on the first day of Boston Bruins training camp at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning, but it didn’t set off any warning bells or whistles. Instead, the Bruins left winger continues to be on track to be ready for B’s opening night in a couple of weeks after undergoing offseason sports hernia surgery.
“That’s what we’re shooting for,” said Marchand, of playing on Jan. 14 in the season-opener against the New Jersey Devils. “We don’t want to miss any games because every game in a shorter season is so important. [Today] was the first day I was able to skate for an extended period with the guys, and it was a pretty good workload compared to what I’ve had. I’m going to push every day to do a little more, but we’ll see how much the [medical staff] pulls me back. We’re just going to be more cautious because the last thing I need is to get hurt and miss a week.”
Marchand was wearing a maroon non-contact sweater at practice and skated through most of the early first session before sitting out the contact-heavy late first session for the Black and Gold. The B’s winger actually estimated that he was at about “80 percent” prior to the September surgery and said he hadn’t been able to sprint or run hard in off-ice training sessions due to the injury.
Now post-surgery Marchand can see a major difference as he gradually gets ready for another season helping carry the Boston Bruins offense.
“It was a long time coming. It’s been 2 ½ years that it’s been bugging me. It’s affected not only my on-ice but also my off-ice training. I haven’t been able to sprint or run really hard in years. Initially it was my left side, my left groin, my left ab that was bugging me, but then this past season it was both sides,” said Marchand, who was skating with Patrice Bergeron and Jack Studnicka during line drills on the first day of B’s training camp. “I’d go with my left getting sore and then that would be better, and my right side would act up, and it got to the point where I was only able to play at 80 percent. I couldn’t take a full stride. A lot of times I was taking days off and then during the playoffs I barely even practiced. I needed every day off to recover because I was in a lot of pain.
“It was a really easy decision to do it. Having four or five months off or whatever it was, it worked out perfectly for me. But I was having the surgery regardless. I needed it big time. Now after going through it, I can’t believe I waited two years to do it. I was hoping it was going to go away. The last thing any player wants is any surgery that’s going to take four months to recover but seeing how I feel on the ice – and what was holding me back – it was night and day. I’m action to get out there and play some games again.”
Good health for Marchand is welcome news to Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, who jokingly said he expected to be a 20 percent better Marchand if he was only operating at 80 percent prior to the fall surgery.
“He looked good, he felt good and I’m told [Marchand] has a chance to be ready opening night. We’ll see how it progresses over the next 8 or 9 days that will dictate that,” said Cassidy. “I thought he was a pretty good player for us at 80 percent. If this gets him a quicker recovery or longer stride, then that’s obviously an added benefit for him.
“I know that some guys were not 100 percent during the playoffs, and he was one of them, which is why he had the surgery. Every player is obviously more effective when they’re at a full go.”
In all seriousness, Marchand should be primed for a big season after posting 28 goals and 87 points in 70 regular season games prior to another seven goals and 12 points in 12 playoff games in the Toronto bubble. The Bruins will need it from Marchand and Patrice Bergeron given that David Pastrnak isn’t going to be ready to start the regular season and could miss up to a month while rehabbing from his own offseason hip surgery.