Who should be the next captain of the Bruins? The popular answer and even my answer is Patrice Bergeron. Too much time on my hands to think has brought me a new candidate for the C depending on a few things. Before I just jump right into making many of you mad, let me take a moment to share my basic reasoning. Yes, Bergeron is the Captain in waiting, and he has been for a very very long time. So long in fact that Bergeron could end up retiring just a year after current team captain Zdeno Chara. Chara has said he doesn’t plan to retire after this season, so if he retires after next season that leaves Bergeron with just one year left on his current deal. For those who say just re-sign him so he retires a Bruin, he might do just that in the summer after the 2021-22 season. When Bergeron’s current contract is up he will be 37 years old in that summer with a long injury history. That brings us to the purpose of this article, saying Marchand could and possibly should be the next captain of the Boston Bruins.
Little Ball of Hate
Over the years Marchand has built a reputation as an agitator or a pest, but that goes back long before his NHL days. In fact, going all the way back to a 14-year-old Marchand is where it probably gets started. During a minor midget game an opponent was harassing the future NHL star trying to knock the puck off his stick. After numerous hooks and slashes Marchand had enough. He spun around swinging his stick like a baseball bat and connected right with the other kids face cage. While Marchand would have liked to be known for his skill, this play turned him from just another player to the most talked about player in his league. It also showed Marchand that opponents were a lot less likely to try and steal the puck from you if they are scared of taking a stick to the cage.
While this incident probably turned some teams off from Marchand it gave him just as much clout with others. Marchand used his on the edge and often over the edge style to his advantage creating space, not because of his skill but because he pushed the envelope. Marchand probably put it best himself, “I think when I was younger, I knew I was either going to get a penalty or score a goal. It was a gamble but it benefited me.” This mentality has carried over into Marchand’s NHL career, with 756 penalty minutes in 751 games. Marchand has also been fined by the league three times, costing him $17,500, and has been suspended six times. His last infraction surprisingly was all the way back on January 25th, 2018. An elbow to the head of Marcus Johansson would cost Marchand five games and $373,475.60 in lost salary. Losing over a third of a million dollars seems like as good a reason as any to perhaps reign himself in a little.
By The Numbers
Now you might all be thinking I'm crazy at this point. How could this player who has more penalty minutes than games played should be the captain of the Bruins in today’s game? Marchand’s NHL career could have had a better start. In his first season with the big club, Marchand played in 20 games and had 1 assist with no goals and 20 penalty minutes. However, in the AHL Marchand showed promise, playing in 34 games scoring 13 goals and 32 points. The following NHL season, the 2010-11 season by the way, Marchand played in 77 games scoring 21 goals and 41 points. He followed up his first 20 goal season with 11 more playoff goals and 19 points in 25 games on the way to winning the Stanley Cup. He has since hit 20 or more goals nine times, even topping 30 the last four seasons. Marchand was on his way to a fifth 30 goal season with 28 in 70 games before the season was paused. Since his rookie season, Marchand has only failed to score 20 goals once when he scored 18 in 45 games during the 2012-13 lockout.
Goal scoring will always grab the headlines, but Marchand has much more to his game than just being able to score. In each of the last four seasons Marchand has dished over 45 assists, topping 50 in the last three. Last year he set a career-high with 64 assists, and had a good shot at topping that total this year with 59 assists in 70 games. Yes, having an all-world sniper like Pasta helps those numbers, but if you watch the games you see Marchand often weaving through multiple defenders before dishing the puck to Pasta who scores on an open net. Marchand’s puck possession and passing ability have continued to improve, and are big reasons he is a premier forward in the league.
Awards and Accolades
The first thing that jumps into all of our minds in the 2011 Stanley Cup title, but Marchand has quite a collection of awards. To start, Marchand won back to back IIHF World U20 Championship golds in '07 and '08. Marchand also won Gold at the IIHF World Championship in 2016, scoring four goals and seven points in ten games for Team Canada. Also in 2016 Marchand and Team Canada won gold at the World Cup of Hockey, where he was named to the tournament all-star team and scored the most goals in the tournament. Not only was Marchand put on Team Canada’s top line for the tournament, but he also scored the Gold medal-winning goal.
Marchand has also received considerable support for some major NHL awards over the last few seasons. Starting in 2016-17 Marchand finished seventh in Hart Trophy voting, and twelfth in voting for the Selke. 2017-18 saw Marchand finish in eleventh for the Hart and tenth for the Selke. Finally, in 2018-19 Marchand finished fifth in Hart voting and sixteenth in voting for the Selke. Whenever this season’s NHL awards are announced Marchand is likely to finish pretty high once again for both of these awards.
Marchand has also cemented his individual legacy as one of the all-time great Bruins. He is already the franchise leader in shorthanded goals with 27. Marchand is also first all-time in overtime game-winning goals with 15, and is tied for fifth in game-winning goals with 56. Last year, in his tenth season as a Bruin, Marchand became only the tenth 100 point scorer in franchise history. It was also the first 100 point season since the 2002-03 season. Marchand joined the exclusive club with Phil Esposito, Bobby Orr, Johnny Bucyk, Ken Hodge, Rick Middleton, Barry Pederson, Joe Juneau, Adam Oates, and Joe Thornton. Pretty impressive company for a guy who was the last player to make his Triple A team, and was a healthy scratch for the last game of his junior career.
Marchand earned his nickname "Little Ball Of Hate", but he has also outgrown it in recent years. Over the last five seasons Marchand ranks fourth in league scoring with 418 points in just 374 games. The three players ahead of him, some guys named McDavid, Kane, and Kucherov. That doest't sound like just another agitator, Marchand is a bonafide star in the NHL. This whole idea really just depends on what happens with Bergeron and Chara. If Chara hands down the captaincy to Bergeron next year so he can have it for more than a year I'm ok with that. Or if Bergeron wants to sign a short term deal when his current deal is up he deserves the C. My issue is if it's Bergeron as captain for only one season. At that point I think Marchand has earned the right to wear the C, and the numbers back it up. Marchand plays in all three zones in all situations and has shown he steps his game up when it matters most. End of the third, OT, the playoffs, Marchand has proven himself as a leader of this team and as a player the team can count on to make things happen. If that isn't what a captain is then I'm not sure what is. Please as always comment on what you think of Marchand wearing the C and other options you think could fill the role in the future. With leagues getting closer to returning by the day please keep checking back with us for all the latest news and updates. Stay safe out there and LETS GO BRUINS!!!
Featured image courtesy of Bruce Bennett/Getty Images.