By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Brad Marchand has heard the criticism and hes got a little bit of a chip on his shoulder.
The pugnacious winger had always been a successful blend of hockey skill and sandpaper grit coming up through the junior hockey ranks and the AHL, but nobody could have foreseen the offensive explosion during his rookie year with the Bruins.
The 23-year-old forward popped in 21 goals and 41 points along with a plus-25 and five shorthanded goals for the Bruins last year, and then really spiked in the playoffs with 19 points in 25 playoff games along with some memorable performances against the Canucks in the Stanley Cup Finals.
The image of Marchand using one of the Sedins as his personal punching bag in Game 6 at the Garden is one of the overriding moments from the Cup Finals, but its also one of the reasons the pesky winger is despised by anyone outside of Boston. Marchand is the perfect love him if hes on your team and hate him if he plays elsewhere kind of player, and that can spark some serious criticism.
Some around the NHL mostly in Vancouver, naturally felt that Marchand was a bit of a one-year wonder and that the recent two-year, 5 million contract was unjustified given his lack of track record.
Marchand has heard all of that and set on proving everybody wrong a key part of rabble-rouser continuing to play on the edge he consistently needs to be an effective player.
You always want to get better every year and you dont want to be personally satisfied with anything that youve done, said Marchand. The biggest thing for me to prove is that last year wasnt a fluke and that I can keep my consistency up. I need to prove I can bring that level of energy every game.
Ive been told plenty of times this summer by former players that its a lot tougher coming in for your second year because guys know who you are. They know your tendencies a little bit and goalies have studied you a little bit and know what youre going to do. Its a little tougher in your second year so thats something Im aware of.
Many hockey observers are wondering if Marchand is the kind of player that can be counted on for 20 goals each and every season, or if it was just one magical rookie season with seemingly everything going right for him.
It looks like hockeys version of the Honey Badger doesnt care about any of that, however, and hes just going to keep doing his thing. Marchand and the Bruins wouldnt have it any other way.