BUFFALO - Brad Marchand is happy to play the villain’s role when he goes to the other 30 NHL rinks around the league.
He’ll twirl his imaginary mustache, insult a few opponents and do things that will irritate anybody and everybody who doesn’t have a rooting interest for the Bruins. Still, Marchand is also a leader on the Bruins, a prideful competitor and a guy that isn’t going to let other teams' players embarrass the Bruins on the ice.
So many around the league will thumb their nose at Marchand for his third-period fireworks Wednesday night when he jumped Lars Eller and bloodied him in a pretty one-sided fight where Eller didn’t really engage until partway through. But it was one of the few moments of genuine competitiveness and emotion for the Bruins on a night where they flat-lined for 60 minutes in a season-opener that’s always supposed to set the tone.
Marchand didn’t start on time just like everybody else in a Black and Gold uniform, but he finally found that fire in the third period after Eller did a spinning celebration past the B’s bench when it became a 7-0 game.
"It was the celebration. It was unnecessary,” said Marchand, explaining why he dropped Eller like a bad habit. “[Eller] took an angle in front of our bench and celebrated in a 7-0 game. So I just let him know."
When Eller blasted a slap shot at the Bruins net just a couple of moments later, Marchand had his moment to make his own statement, and he had the full backing of his head coach after the fact as well.
“[Marchand] is a proud guy,” said Cassidy. “I think Eller celebrated a little in a 7-0 goal and I think that’s his prerogative. Marchand let him know that it wasn’t acceptable and that’s that.”
Some will gnash their teeth and stomp their feet because it was Marchand who stepped up and said enough was enough, but to this humble hockey writer’s eyes, he looked a lot more like a leader than a pest in snapping at Eller. It’s also a fair bet that Eller won’t be doing that again to the Bruins bench anytime soon.