Did licking then Tampa Bay Lightning forward Ryan Callahan in a scrum during Game 4 of the 2018 Eastern Conference semifinals turn Boston Bruins Brad Marchand’s career in the right direction and lead to him becoming the 27th captain in franchise history?
“Yeah, you know, it’s funny that you asked this question today, because I really thought about it, pretty, pretty hard this morning, when I was driving to the rink about kind of how this all happened,” Brad Marchand replied when asked if he could pinpoint a turning point in his career that has seen him become a bonafide superstar and NHL captain.
“You know, again, it’s not something that you ever expect. And you know, my brother said something to me when I told him. He said something along the lines of four or five years ago, everybody hated you, you know and now, you turning around, you’re the captain of the team. It’s been pretty incredible the way that things change. And, perhaps that incident with Callahan was kind of one of those moments where I realized that it kind of was getting away from me a little bit.”
As the 35-year-old and new Boston Bruins captain pointed out and recalled, the first captain he played under until 2020, Zdeno Chara, let him have it and tried to implore him that he had the potential to be better than the shenanigans he pulled with Callahan, and with then Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov in the opening round of the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“At the time, I don’t think that really kicked in and, you know, made me change at that point in time. But I think over the next couple of years, it definitely changed, it was part of the discussions that were about changing what my legacy was going to be and something that ‘Zee’ [Chara] taught me about,” Marchand recalled.
When Marchand’s longtime linemate, mentor, and best friend Patrice Bergeron took over as the 26th captain in the history of the Boston Bruins in 2021, Marchand started to see the light and realize who and what he had become and can be.
“When ‘Bergy’ became captain, I was alongside him every day and that’s really where I got to see what it takes to be at that next level,” Marchand pointed out. “I spent a lot of time ‘Zee’ before that, but not the same amount. When I got to see, really, to
another extent, what [Bergeron] was doing as a captain, how he carried himself, and the things that he was making important for himself to focus on every day that were going to benefit the group, I realized that there were some things that I needed to work on myself.
If I ever want to be at that level – because everyone looks at the guys around the league – and there’s s a reason that guys like Sid [Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby] and ‘Bergy’ and ‘Zee’ and guys in the past who have played 15-20 years that have accomplished everything, there’s a reason for it. It’s because of the effort that they put in away from the rinks that nobody sees. It’s about every little detail of their life, and what translates into their game, and what they accomplish at the rink. So, as I started to see more and more of that, I started to care more about it and realized that I needed to implement that too.