BOSTON, MA -- Five days after winning a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Championships, Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand was named to Canada’s roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
This is the fifth time Marchand has been selected to compete for his home country in international play. He scored four goals and three assists in 10 games as he helped Canada earn a gold medal at the 2016 IIHF Men’s World Championships, held earlier this month in Russia. Marchand previously won gold with Team Canada at the IIHF World U-20 Championships in 2007 and 2008. He also earned a bronze medal with Team Canada Atlantic at the 2005 World U-17 Hockey Challenge.
Marchand, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, established career-highs in goals (37) and points (60) with the Bruins in 2015-16. His 37 goals ranked sixth in the NHL and were the most by a Bruins player since Glen Murray (44) in 2002-03. The 28-year-old is a veteran of seven NHL seasons – all with the Bruins – and was originally selected by Boston in the third round (71st overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Marchand’s selection will reunite him with Bruins teammate Patrice Bergeron, who was named to Team Canada’s preliminary roster on March 2.
Although he was still feeling the effects of the lengthy travel from Moscow, Marchand spoke about being selected to Canada’s World Cup team and his expectations of the tournament to members of the Boston media in a conference call on the day the lineups were announced by all of the participating teams.
Boston failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but the team placed eight players (Marchand and Bergeron-Team Canada, Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg-Team Europe, David Krejci and David Pastrnak-Team Czech Republic, Loui Eriksson-Team Sweden, Tuukka Rask-Team Finland) on World Cup rosters and with that Marchand is looking forward to the future of his NHL club.
“I think that it shows that we have a lot of great players on the team,” said Marchand. “We have a lot of high caliber players and I think we have a bright future ahead of us, with the guys that we do have and the guys that we have coming up, I think that if we play the way we do next year and years after that, and we continue to build and improve, I think we’re going to be a good team.”
Like all youngsters who lace up skates in Canada, Marchand knows that being selected to play for his country is an honor he takes very seriously.
“It’s an incredible honor to play for Team Canada,” Marchand said. “It’s something that I think we all take a lot of pride in. It’s not an easy accomplishment. It’s not something you get to do very often, and to have that opportunity twice this year is very special and it’s not something I take for granted. So it was a very special experience to be over in Russia and to be part of that team and it’s a dream come true to be part of this World Cup team. You know, the players who are on that list and the guys we’re going to be playing against, it’s an incredible feeling and I’m very happy to be a part of this team.”
With his recent role with Canada at the World Championships and selection to its World Cup team, Marchand feels that fans from around the NHL may begin see him as more than an agitator on the ice.
“You know, I think being part of a team like this is on a different level, and people may give a little more respect to that fact and may look at more of the kind of player I am, other than just the stuff they’ve seen in the past, with the hits and being a pest and stuff like that, so maybe those people will realize that I’m an OK hockey player and I do play the game as well,” Marchand said. “But regardless, that’s not why I play the game. I play it to help our team win and just because I love the game, so however they feel, then that’s their opinion, but it is a possibility.”
When you get right down to it, the more important issue is that his red and white clad teammates accept him for the player, and person, that he is. Something that occurred quickly in Russia.
“Sometimes when you first go over there and you’re in that first stage of meeting everyone, I might be a little tentative to meet guys,” Marchand admitted. “I know that when they first are in the room with me or are first meeting me, they’re expecting me to be a bad guy off the ice, too, and I think just when guys get to know me, they realize that I’m not off the ice the way I am on the ice and you start to warm up to one another, and that’s the same thing the other way around. When you play with guys you compete with, I think anyone in the league will say that 99 percent of the guys in the league are great guys off the ice, and we all get along. We have so much in common. When we get together in a group like that, everyone becomes friends really quickly and there’s not one guy on that team that I didn’t get along with, everyone’s awesome, so I think it’s a great opportunity also just to get to know one another and become friends. Again, something like that and a tournament like that, something that we’ll always be able to talk about and go back to, so it’s a great experience.”
The speedy winger wanted to play well enough in Russia to earn consideration for Canada’s World Cup team but it was not the reason for playing in the World Championships.
“That wasn’t my thought going over there,” Marchand explained. “I thought, as soon as I got the call to go to the World Championship, I didn’t even think about it. I wanted to be part of that team. I wasn’t ready to be done this season, and again, playing for Canada is a huge opportunity and I haven’t had the opportunity to play in the Worlds before, so it was something I was really excited about doing. But I think that once I got there and started thinking about it, yeah, definitely that was on my mind when I was there, potentially having a decent tournament could help that cause and ultimately, at the end of the day, I would have done anything to be on the team, so if going to Russia and doing my best, whether I was going to make that team or not, I wanted that opportunity. So I’m definitely happy I went.”
For Marchand, the World Championships were exciting, but he’s expecting a whole new level of excitement at the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
“It’s going to be very intense,” Marchand said with enthusiasm. “I mean, you’re playing against the top players in the world. Every game’s going to be a battle. Everyone is competing to be the best team in the world and there’s a ton of pride to be that team, and guys are going to do whatever they can to win, so they’re doing to be very intense games, definitely a lot of emotion in them, and they’re going to be incredible games to watch.
“I think it will add a little more excitement going into the season for the fans and get them excited about early on in September. So I think it’s going to be great. I think a lot of people are really looking forward to it and it’s going to be an exciting time in Toronto.”
Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period. Follow him on Twitter.