TORONTO -- Many questioned whether Brad Marchand would be accepted on the Team Canada World Cup of Hockey roster.
His reputation around the NHL and the hockey world wasn't a very good one outside of the Boston Bruins. He is known as a pest, the type of player you hate to play against but want on your team. On the national scale, having a roster loaded with superstars, the best talent in Canada, it was interesting how Marchand would fit.
On Thursday, his short-handed goal with 43.1 seconds left in regulation led Team Canada to a 2-1 championship victory over Team Europe at Air Canada Centre. It was his fifth goal of the best-on-best tournament. When he jumped over the boards for the penalty kill, teammate Jonathan Toews had the puck in the offensive zone when Marchand was in an all-out skate to get into the play. Toews left the puck for Marchand, who beat Europe goalie Jaroslav Halak with a rocket of a shot from the slot.
Marchand's goal celebration resembled the one when the Bruins mounted an historic comeback to beat the Toronto Maple Leafs in overtime of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2013. It was pure elation.
"The whole thing has been a whirlwind," Marchand said. "When you come into a tournament like this, you just try to take everything in. It's the biggest stage in the world right now and to be a part of it is an incredible honor. Then to be put on the same line with Sid and Bergy is another big honor and there's a lot of pressure that goes with that. But it's been an incredible experience every day with the guys in the room, and off the ice, and the things we had to overcome, it's been a dream come true and I'll cherish every second of this for the rest of my life."
Team Canada captain Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Marchand skated together during the summer in Halifax because they had already been told they would be a line for this tournament. Crosby said he knew right away the addition of Marchand would be a good choice for Team Canada.
"I was pretty confident," Crosby said. "It seemed like there was chemistry right away. [Even though] it was the summer, usually you can tell those things pretty quickly. We came to the camp and it seemed to jell right away. When you can get a good start, it builds confidence, so we were able to get a good start in the first game. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't and you have to juggle, but right from the start it felt like we were able to generate a lot. It's fun to share this win him. Being from the same area and never really having a chance to play together and then to play together on this stage, playing for your country, is pretty special."
After the final buzzer sounded, Marchand was the first one to hug goalie Carey Price.
"He's got a lot of speed, great shot and both of those players [Marchand and Bergeron] are good two-way players, perfect complementary players to Sidney," Price said.
It has been a good week for Marchand.
Not only did he sign an eight-year contract extension worth $49 million with the Bruins, he became a national hero in Canada. His performance in this tournament made players -- teammates and opponents -- and fans realize how dynamic of a player he is.
"It's helped him," said Team Canada assistant coach and Bruins head coach, Claude Julien. "It's helped the people on the outside as well to see how good he is and maybe shed some of that reputation that he brought about himself earlier in his career. He's honest about it. He'll tell you the same thing, but he's really starting to shed that reputation and he's earning a lot of respect from people watching, but also people in that dressing room are discovering how good a person he really is, things we've known for a long time in Boston."
Described by President Obama as the "Little Ball of Hate" during the Bruins' White House visit after winning the 2011 Stanley Cup, Marchand became a national legend Tuesday. He was booed during the preseason games in Ottawa and was even booed here in Toronto. His effort to help Team Canada win will forever be celebrated.
"To be on a team like this and have success and to win with a team like this is an incredible feeling," Marchand said. "All of Canada gets behind that and they all feel the enjoyment of that, feeling success from that, and we all enjoy it together and all of Canada will be celebrating tonight."