Brad Marchand didn’t want to repeat in the pros the fateful end to his junior career with the Halifax Mooseheads.
So as the 20-year-old forward embarked on his American Hockey League rookie season with the Providence Bruins, he approached head coach Rob Murray with a request.
“He came in early in the season and said, ‘I want you to make me a man as a hockey player,’” Murray recalled.
Marchand’s reputation for having an attitude problem preceded him. After a love-hate tenure with back-to-back gold-medal-winning Canadian world junior teams, Marchand arrived in Halifax midway through 2007-08 trumpeted as the man who would lead the Herd to its first President’s Cup.
But the Mooseheads suffered a total meltdown, swept in the semifinals by the Gatineau Olympiques, and Marchand was a healthy scratch in the deciding game.
“He had a clean slate with me,” Murray said. “I wasn’t going to look for anything other people had talked about.”
The Hammonds Plains native has risen to new heights, posting 16 goals and 38 assists for 54 points in 73 games, third on the Bruins, a young team with a 40-26-2-6 record.
“He’s done everything I’ve asked,” Murray said. “I can give it to him. He comes off the ice and if he’s done something I don’t like, I let him know. He’s thick-skinned. He doesn’t pout.”
It was a surprise when Marchand wasn’t named to the AHL all-rookie team. Three older college grads — Tim Kennedy, Justin Abdelkader and Nathan Gerbe — got the nod. Marchand is second in rookie scoring behind Kennedy.
“He’s the kind of kid who will go out and prove to the world that he should have be on that team,” Murray said.
The five-foot-nine 187-pounder skates with Wacey Rabbit and Jeremy Reich. He matches up against top lines and is used in last-minute defensive situations. Murray said Marchand “stirs the pot,” “never quits,” and “loves playing the game.”
An NHL call-up from the Boston Bruins can’t be far off. Murray said he’s “at the top of the depth chart.”
“His game has elevated at the pro level,” said Murray, a former NHLer. “I’m not looking at what he did in the past. I’m looking at what he does now. And he’s been great.”