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Boston Bruins Marchand Tops NHLPA’s ‘Love/Hate’ List

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Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand seems to always be on the NHL’s most hated list when the annual NHLPA Players’ Poll comes out, and this season was no different.

Marchand won by a landslide this time around in the category of “which player do you least enjoy playing against but would like to have on your team” with 26.4 percent of the respondents voting for the Boston Bruins top line left winger. Others behind him in the voting were Connor McDavid (18.3 percent), Tom Wilson (10.7 percent), Victor Hedman (6.9 percent) and Nathan MacKinnon (5.3 percent), but really only Marchand and Wilson quality as NHL opponents that players love to hate.

Certainly, it’s a perfect statement on the gifted, intensely competitive Marchand that everyone hates to play against him, but at the same time wants him on their hockey team.

Marchand has talked often about being hated around the league as a pest or an agitator, or as a competitor that can sometimes get lost in the heat of the battle that he’s fighting.

“I know there’s a lot of people who don’t like [the way I play], and I will be the first to tell you that it’s a fine line,” wrote Brad Marchand in an article for the Player’s Tribune a couple of years ago. “I have done things that have stepped over that line, and I’ve paid the price for it. But you know what? There’s a lot of people out there in the hockey world who love to say, ‘Winning is everything. It’s the only thing.’

But do they really mean it? How far are they willing to go? Maybe it was my size, or just the way I was born, but I’ve always felt like you have to be willing to do anything — literally anything — in order to win. Even if that means being hated. Even if it means carrying around some baggage. If I played the game any other way, you absolutely would not know my name. You wouldn’t care enough to hate me, because I wouldn’t be in the NHL.”

Just a few games ago in Pittsburgh, the NESN cameras caught Patrice Bergeron talking Marchand down on the Boston Bruins bench after he’d just gotten into it with a few Penguins players on the ice.

“I guess this one was on TV but it’s not like it’s the first time that we’re doing that,” said Bergeron. “We’ve been around with each other long enough to have a good read for each other. Obviously, he’s one of those guys that plays on the edge and tries to get us in the fight. Sometimes you got to make sure he doesn’t get over that line. It’s something that’s happened in the past. It’s something that you guys might have seen tonight, but it’s nothing new.”

All sides of Marchand’s game have been on display for the Boston Bruins this season as he’s twice been suspended by the league including five games for punching and spearing Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry. But he also scored his 32nd goal of the season in Tuesday night’s 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers to snap an 11-game goal-scoring drought, marking the fifth time in his NHL career that he’s topped 30 goals in a season.

 

 

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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