DETROIT – The wait is almost over for Bruins winger Brad Marchand, who will serve out the final portion of his five-game suspension on Tuesday night at the brand spanking new Little Caesars Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings.
It hasn’t been all that painful of a stretch for the Bruins, who have won three of the first four games without Marchand including impressive back-to-back wins over the St. Louis Blues and Toronto Maple Leafs. Clearly, it’s been personally difficult for No. 63 as he’s been subject to daily bag skates following practice as is standard protocol for a suspended player, but there’s another more challenging thing that Marchand has to come to grips with.
That challenge is figuring out how to navigate his NHL career without running afoul of the league again after he finishes serving his sixth career suspension. Marchand knows he has opponents targeting him for borderline hits and constant abuse and he’s fully aware that the NHL Player Safety Department will be watching him at every stop as well.
Marchand also knows that his next bit of supplemental discipline is likely to be a longer suspension as well.
“It’s kind of nerve-wracking, to be honest,” admitted Marchand about what could happen next time he steps over the line. “Nobody wants to be in this position. I never wanted to get to this point. I have to continue to be better and make strides.”
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Still, the straight and narrow is always going to be difficult based on his own survival instincts on the ice as a pest and one of the smallest guys (5-9, 180 pounds) out there every single night. And it’s going to be doubly difficult with both the league and the refs understandably not about to give him the benefit of the doubt in any situation.
“It’s tough. I’ve tried for a while now to get away from that [agitator] role, and I just can’t seem to escape it,” said Marchand. “If you look at the last few years I think I’ve turned into a pretty decent player. It’s tough to be branded with that name consistently. Obviously, it’s from my own doing, but it’s tough to escape it a bit.
“Devil’s advocate, it’s also what I had to do to get into the league. I’ll never say that I wouldn’t go back and play the same way coming into the league. It’s what I had to do to get a job and to get to where I am today. It’s definitely tough. When you’re done [playing], you want to be remembered as being a decent player. I’ve had a decent run with a Cup, world championships, World Cup and World Juniors, so there’s some accolades there too that I want to be remembered for. But it’s kind of overshadowed right now.”
The only way any of it is going to change for Marchand is if he can go a couple of seasons without short-circuiting and doing something suspension-worthy. That, as always, is entirely up to him in the middle of another All-Star season for the Black and Gold.
Here are the line combos and D-pairings for the game tonight in Detroit with Kevan Miller (upper body), Noel Acciari (lower body) and Anders Bjork (upper body) all not with the team on the two-game trip.