Bruins winger Brad Marchand has been keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com all season. In this installment, he discusses what the identity of this team is, who is the master prankster on the road, breaking up the Bru-Tang Line, and how his life has changed with all the attention since winning the Stanley Cup. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta) (Editor’s note – this diary was done prior to the Bruins 3-2 loss to the Islanders on Saturday)
We’ve just came off a very long road trip. I think we’ve been playing pretty good hockey lately. We changed our line up a little bit, but for the most part, I think we are playing good hockey. We are getting back to the way we were playing in November. We’re definitely a third period team [Editor’s note: Going into Saturday’s game the Bruins are 25-0-0 when leading after two periods.]. I think the second period seems to be our weakness right now. We don’t seem to be able to put a very good second period together. We seem to be able to follow that up with a great third. Everyone is just so excited and determined to have a great third period and finish the game strong. We like to make sure we come out and get the two points in the third period.
On road trips, there is always a prankster. I give the title of best prankster to Soupy [Gregory Campell]. I came back from supper the other day and all my bed sheets were gone. We got into a little war there on the road. I was able to get a key to his room. I broke into his room and got my sheets back and took his jacket. We kind of ended it there. I’m sure some more stuff is going to come about before the season is over.
Coach [Claude Julien] said he wanted us to gain an identity on this road trip. So what is it? We limit teams’ opportunities. Everyone comes back very hard in their own end. We’re very stingy. We haven’t played like that as of late, but when we do we’re very very tough to play against. We play a high tempo game that is physical. Playing simple hockey is key. We’re not trying to beat guys one on one. We’re chipping pucks in and trying to battle down low and support each other. If we can get back to playing this way, we’ll be successful.
My line has changed a little bit with Segs [Tyler Seguin] moving to play with [David] Krejci and Looch [Milan Lucic] and Rolly [Brian Rolston] playing with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and me. Anything is possible, especially when we’re not playing up to par and our team had kind of slipped a little bit. You need to do something to spark your team. Moving Segs seemed to ignite the guys and we had a big win with it on Thursday with Krejci getting that hat trick. I think the change will stay as long as we’re winning and playing well. There’s no reason to change things up again then. Bergy and I played really well with Rolly. We thought he really clicked with our line too. It seems to be working well.
It’s been a while since my last diary so let me touch on a few things that has gone on over the past month or so. The White House visit was a pretty cool experience. I had a lot of fun there. The whole time I was there I was trying to find secret passage ways. I was pulling out books from the book shelf. Any crack in the wall I was trying to push bricks. I wasn’t able to take anything as a memento as they were keeping a pretty close watch. To have President Obama single me out was very surprising. Someone of his stature giving you a shout out was really special. I have a nice picture shaking his hand that I’m going to blow up and put on my wall. He called me the Little Ball of Hate, which is cool that he said something about me but it’s not sticking as a nickname. It’s a bit of a mouthful for a nickname. Usually nicknames are short and quick. I’ve seen it on posters and stuff around but the boys don’t call me anything like that.
As far as Tim Thomas not going, Timmy is a big boy and can make his own decisions. Everyone has their own beliefs. He was standing up for his. He made a choice and stuck with it. I wasn’t really surprised what a big deal him not going became. It’s a big thing for anyone to go to the White House, especially a sports team. But anytime the press can kind of get their hands on something and make a big story out of it that’s what’s going to happen.
I had a lot of fun at Disney World over the All-Star break. I really enjoy animals and things of that nature. At Animal Kingdom there was a safari ride where you can go around in a bus and see lions and rhinos and big alligators and hippos. I thought that was the coolest ride. I do like rollercoasters, but I don’t like waiting in lines. We tried to hit as many rides as we could. But we were there for a short period of time and there are so many parks that it was tough to get to all of them. I’ll tell you this tip though if you plan on going to Disney: Wear comfortable shoes. The first day I wore sandals and had cuts in between all my toes. The next day I was sure to wear running shoes.
You may have seen me on twitter for a quick minute. I got on it, well, one to have Segs stop telling me to be on it and also to get involved and see what it was all about and promote some t-shirts stuff. It was taking up some time. I knew I wasn’t going to keep up with it. It didn’t really interest me a whole lot. I didn’t see a big point to keeping it. So I just got rid of it.
I seem to be someone you either really like or really really don’t. A lot of people who don’t like me are from Vancouver who are just upset that we beat them. A lot of people on twitter were just fans trying to support their team whether Montreal fans or Vancouver fans or whatnot. But there are also a lot of fans who do like me and it’s not because they know me as a person. It’s because of the style of hockey I play and our team being successful. People are just hating on that. Luckily, we have a lot of very very loyal fans that love our team and really back us up. It’s awesome to be a part of an organization like that.
Last year, all around town you could go anywhere and no one would recognize me. I could do my thing. This year it just seems everywhere you go people recognize you. They’ll congratulate you on winning last year. At Celtics games when I go, it seems like Celtics fans are Bruins fans and vice versa. Segs and I went to a Celtics game this year and I don’t think we even were able to watch five minutes of the game because people were coming up for pictures and whatnot. It’s still a lot of fun though. We enjoy being around the city and being around the fans. But it is a big change from last year, especially after we won.
I’d say the thing that has changed the most for me this year is that it’s tougher to go unnoticed with some things you do. You can be out and people are always watching you or taking your picture. Things can get blown out of proportion very easily. You can get caught in positions that can have bad repercussions, even if you’re not doing anything wrong. It can still be spun the wrong way. I just have to be very careful what I’m doing now. I’m always trying to use my head.
It’s crazy with how much people care about your every move. One day I was at Subway just ordering a sub. I saw these two girls behind me and they kind of took a picture of my back. They were the only two people in the whole place. I remember going home and someone sent me an email of the picture the same day of me being at Subway. It’s crazy. You don’t really realize how many people like to get pictures out there and want to say that they’ve seen you around town. It’s just a little different not knowing who is taking your picture.
I was asked a lot when I was coming back from my suspension if I was going to change my style of play. I think that was a question in every interview around that time. It’s a tough situation because it’s a very fine line playing this game because things happen so quickly. It’s a very emotional game. You really don’t want to change the way you play because that is what got you here and made you successful. If you start changing then your game could change up.
It definitely has made me more aware of things I’m allowed to do and not allowed to do and different ways to protect yourself. You definitely think when you’re going in for a hit, now with all the suspensions around the League, that you have to be very careful and you might have to move or stop if you’re going to hit a guy in a bad position. There are a lot of suspensions but [Brendan] Shanahan has done a great of job of instilling in guys’ minds that you have to be more cautious and have more respect for your opponent.
Part of my style is to be in front of the net at times. I’ve learned not to talk to the opposing goalie. When you start talking to goalies that’s usually when it backfires. I’ve done that a couple of times in the past and it’s come back to bite me in the butt. I try to stay clear from trash talking the goalies. It’s very hard to stand your ground in front of the net. Especially in this league, a lot of defenseman are big and strong. Their main job when they’re in front of the net is to push guys away from the goalie so he can see. I find for me, it’s very tough. I have to do a lot of spinning off guys and battling guys that are a lot bigger and a lot stronger than I am. You even see for a guy like Looch sometimes it’s hard to stand there when you’re battling big, strong defenseman. It’s a tough job, but that’s how you score goals.
We picked up some new guys at the trade deadline. As I mentioned, Rolly has been playing on my line. He’s a veteran guy. He’s big and strong. I know from playing against him that he has a very heavy shot. He’s a really good player. From playing with him and practicing with him a little bit, I like playing with him. He’s got very good speed and is a very smart player. He’s an awesome guy in the room too. He’s great to talk to. I know he’s played here before. A lot of people love him. He’s a great addition to our team.
We also have Mike Mottau now, who has a Boston accent! I’ve met him previously from doing a charity event with him. He’s a nice guy who is very down to earth. A Boston boy, and this town always loves their own. It’s nice to have him here as well. There’s another Z on this team as we have Greg Zanon with us. We’re were laughing about that in the room calling him Little Z. He’s a great player. He’s strong defensively and a nice guy off the ice. Management did a nice job bringing in three very good players.
The goal for the last six weeks of the regular season is to get prepared for playoffs. To get back to playing the way we can going into the end of the season. We don’t need to win every game, but we have to make sure every night we’re consistent. We have to play good, solid hockey. If we can do that, come playoff time, we’re ready to go, prepared and playing our best hockey.