Marchand’s spark carries him to 1,000 NHL games
Patrice Bergeron and Charlie Coyle share what makes Boston Bruins captain, Brad Marchand, as good a leader as he is a friend ahead of a milestone game.
All photos courtesy of Getty Images
Thirteen years ago, in the aftermath of Stanley Cup glory, a 23-year-old Brad Marchand reflected on what he felt his biggest contributions to the victory were.
“I love the game and I love being able to provide a spark.”
On the cusp of his 1,000th regular-season NHL game, now 35 and in his first season of captaincy with the Boston Bruins, Marchand has not lost any of the spark he’s provided the club since 2011.
His passion for hockey continued to grow over the years, as has his status as one of the Original Six team’s all-time greats.
Former Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron, who retired last July as one of hockey’s all-time two-way centres with a record-setting Selke Trophy wins, started playing alongside a rookie Marchand in 2009-10.
“As a teammate, it was a relationship that we built over the years,” Bergeron told NHLPA.com. “When Brad first came in, we clicked right away on the ice and over time, we established a friendship. The way he saw things, his work ethic, his competitiveness and the way he approached everything in games and practices – it resonated with how I approached the game as well. Over the years, we became great friends and to this day, we are very close.”
Bergeron, who preceded Marchand as the Bruins’ captain, came to deeply appreciate the times the two spent together even more.
It was conversations with former teammates that sparked those thoughts.
“I’ve been told by some of my ex-teammates of mine that we should realize how special it is to have played together for so long,” shared Bergeron.
“It’s almost as though I didn’t realize it until a few of my old teammates told me, ‘Hey, this is pretty special.’ And then you start to think about it. It isn’t very often that you play on the same line with someone for over a decade and have that friendship. It makes you realize how special that is, and also how thankful you need to be for that.”
Charlie Coyle, who has been with the Bruins since February 2019, shares similar sentiments when speaking of his current linemate.
“Brad is a great teammate because he leads by example in every situation, whether it’s on the ice, in the gym or even in the community,” said Coyle.
“His personality is one of a kind. He can lighten the mood with a funny joke to bring guys together, but also knows when to tie it back and speak up in a more serious tone when the time calls for it.”
Marchand’s approach has no doubt served him well over the years.
Over his 15 seasons in Boston, he has held rank as one of the team’s sparkplugs – a difference-maker in the big games and big moments.
Marchand, who made his NHL debut on Oct. 21, 2009, is still at the top of his game and no stranger to milestones.
Jan. 25, the Nova Scotia native moved into fifth on the Bruins’ all-time goals scored list with his 396th career goal, after earlier in the month becoming the fifth player in club history to record 900 career points.
On Jan. 20, he set the team standard for most 20-goal seasons with 11, moving ahead of Hall of Fame forward Johnny Bucyk and Bergeron, who each had 20 tallies or more in 10 straight campaigns.
If all goes to plan, Marchand will play in his 1,000th NHL game on Feb. 13 with a home game against Tampa Bay.
“It is special, and it is well deserved,” said Bergeron of the milestone mark. “It is a testament to how hard he has worked and everything that has accomplished so far.
“He has stayed at the top of his game, and he is getting even better, which is very impressive. It’s one thing to play and to have a career, but it is another thing to play 1,000 games. It speaks volumes about him as a player and as a person.
“Kudos to him. I am proud of him, and it has been an honour to share the ice with him for a big part of those 1,000 games.”
Coyle, who came to the Bruins via a trade with Minnesota on Feb. 20, 2019, is not surprised to see Marchand thriving.
“I think he’s been able to play at such an elite level for so long because of his tenacious work ethic, his drive, his support from his family and his ability to do all of the right things to take care of himself physically and mentally,” offered Coyle.
“The way he works and prepares is extremely contagious and it’s a huge factor in what enables him to keep playing at such a high level.
“But I also think he’d be the first to tell you that he’s able to do these things and play the sport he loves because of his wife and family being there to take care of things at home, and also the support they give to him every day.”
Marchand’s impactful ways extend beyond the rink.
Bergeron has seen first-hand Marchand’s longstanding commitment to give back to the Boston community.
It is a role tailor-made for No. 63, noted Bergeron.
“Marchy is one of those guys who always wants to give back. He has that energy, and he’s very good with people. He makes people laugh and he is always cracking jokes. He is the perfect guy to meet fans and go to different community events, whatever it might be. He is always willing to do that, and he understands the importance of having a strong bond with the fans.”
Marchand has also maintained the winning philosophy he shared 13 years ago.
“I think my energy is something that I'm proud of,” he said at the time. “If I can lift the guys’ spirits, bring that energy and emotion, something that we can build on, I take pride in that.”