CHICAGO -- It wasn’t much of a surprise that two of the most entertaining interviews during Stanley Cup finals media day were with the Boston Bruins’ Brad Marchand and the Chicago Blackhawks’ Andrew Shaw.
Shaw was up first. Sitting at a podium with fresh cuts all over his face, Chicago’s 21-year-old center couldn’t wait to answer questions about Marchand.
“We’re both agitators,” Shaw said. “We both play physical and we’re always chirping. He’s perfected it, and that’s what I’m trying to do to my game. We both walk a fine line, and I’ve always looked up to him and admired him. It’s going to be great to actually play against him once.”
In the 2013 playoffs, Shaw has four goals and three assists for seven points; he has posted 26 penalty minutes and an even plus/minus rating. Marchand has four goals and nine assists for 13 points, plus 16 penalty minutes and a plus-7 rating.
When it was Marchand’s turn to sit at the microphone, most of the reporters at the United Center were focused on Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Marchand was waiting, and while he was sitting there he grabbed someone's recorder and began to do play-by-play of the event.
As a scrum began to form around Boston’s "Little Ball of Hate," he was told of Shaw’s comments.
“What a nice guy he is,” Marchand, 25, said with a smile.
The Bruins forward was soaking in Shaw’s accolades as the NHL’s leading motormouth. The agitator role, and the players that fill it, are the type you want on your team but hate to play against. Marchand and Shaw are perfect in that category.
“We all need to find something we’re good at coming into the league, and that was a way for me to break in, and it’s the same with him," Marchand said. "He’s a good player. He’s come in and he’s playing hard. Watching games, he’s all over the place and getting some big goals, so that might just be something he needs to do to get in the league. We want to be better players than we do a pest, but you have to find something to do coming into the league.”
Like the 5-foot-9 Marchand, Shaw spent some time honing his chirping skills in the AHL before getting a chance with Chicago. Generously listed at 5-10, 180 pounds, Shaw will do his best to get under his opponent’s skin in order to draw a penalty and force another player to lose his focus.
“I’ve always played that physical role and it’s what got me here, so everyone lets me know to keep doing what got you here and it’ll give you a long career,” Shaw said. “I’m not a skilled guy. You don’t see me making great passes, or scoring a bunch of goals. I just work hard, go to the net as hard as I can and try to find one or two of those greasy goals.”
Shaw’s teammates, like Marchand’s, respect and value that agitator’s role.
“In our locker room, he’s talking a lot, and he has such energy,” said the Blackhawks’ Michal Handzus. “He’s a fun guy to be around. He’s always talking and in your face. He’s the same whether he’s in our locker room or on the ice. He’s playing with a lot of heart, a lot of emotion, and it’s fun to watch.”