Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

I Hate Brad Marchand

Brad Marchand hates Tomas Plekanec.

In the time since this story broke, his comments have been stewing in my brain.

Okay. So he hates one of the quietest players in the game, who sticks to his business while providing no between-the-whistle antics. He also hates a player who is five years older than him, and who has played almost four hundred more games than him. He hates Tomas Plekanec.

But all that aside, he hates. He hates. There are two things wrong with that: “he” and “hates”. Together, those two words in the context which they were spoken taste so wrong coming out. If there is anyone who should be hating, it isn’t him and if there’s anyone who shouldn’t be hated, it’s Tomas Plekanec.

There are things that are said and done on the ice that aren’t picked up by cameras and microphones, even in today’s day and age of limited privacy. And hockey players are usually pretty good at “keeping it on the ice”. (Except of course Milan Lucic.)

But we the fans know. We know who is bad and who is good. What matters is what we see. Tomas Plekanec is so low-key, he can hardly be considered anything because he is hardly ever talked about.

Brad Marchand is without a doubt “bad”.

I’ll start off by saying he is a good player — a skilled player. Similar to Sean Avery, in that his antics overwhelmingly overshadow his skill. He also has a Stanley Cup ring. However, his fame resides in the cloak of filth which has covered his game since the day he stepped foot in the NHL.

Players like Marchand will always be remembered for their peril and stupidity. Marchand is speedy and has quick hands. He is a strong passer, and possesses the ability to create time and space in the offensive zone. He is a strong defensive player as well, as he is used on the Bruins’ penalty kill and led the league with five shorthanded goals last season.

The fans love him in Boston – the ones who know the difference between right and wrong, and the ones who don’t. He makes noise and is a dynamic player. P.K. Subban makes even more noise and is even more dynamic, yet his “haters” hate him because of one simple reason: he is good. But I’m not going to play that game. Brad Marchand hardly needs a side-by-side comparison for his true colours to be revealed. He does a masterful job of that on his own.

Jan 28, 2014; Newark, NJ, USA; Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman (25) is interviewed during Media Day for Super Bowl XLIII at Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

His off-ice grades don’t get any better. He is as whiny, disrespectful and classless off the ice as he is on. He should take a page, maybe a chapter, out of Richard Sherman’s playbook. Sherman (Seahawks CB) is known as one of the biggest trash-talkers or agitators in the NFL, but he maintains a high level of respect off the field. Marchand does not.

I don’t have a problem with trash-talking. I’m not a moderate. I love it — in Sherman’s case especially. He has explained his psychological tactics in an eloquent, articulate and intelligent manner. He also explains how he switches on for game-time and off when he leaves the field. In the face of his critics, I will come to Sherman’s defence any day.

As a player in the National Hockey League, you have a responsibility to uphold a certain degree of class, respect and professionalism when speaking about the National Hockey League. Brad Marchand is a representative of the NHL and the Boston Bruins — though clearly not a very good one.

Here’s something Marchand did in a game against the Canucks that disgusted me when it happened.

That was his one and only five-game suspension. Though, he should have more.

The best players infuriate other teams because they play well. Brad Marchand infuriates other teams because he plays dirty. I’m sure there are plenty of coaches and general managers who would revel at the chance to lace-up for one night to give him a taste of their own contempt for the “little ball of hate”. (Hmm. Funny nickname now that this story is out. It’s a lot more jovial when said by this man.)

Alain Vigneault might be one of those GMs.

That is the kind of commentary Marchand frequently brings about.

He intentionally hurts and injures other players, with non-hockey plays. He demonstrates the very things we don’t want to teach kids about the game. In this particular hit on Salo, if you can call it a “hit”, he targets the legs in a dangerous manoeuvre at the last second, leaving Salo defenceless. Ducking down, out of the way of a hit the way Marchand did is cowardice. It’s not worthy of the NHL. What’s striking about this footage, is Salo’s reaction as he launches his stick in pure frustration. He too knew how dirty and cowardice a play it was. I’m not going to say whether Salo suffered an injury on the play; it doesn’t matter. Marchand makes a conscious choice and goes out of his way to make dangerous and devastating contact with another player.

His lowlight reel of dirty and cheap plays is readily available for anyone to see. When you do a Youtube search with his name, the first few videos are negative. Along with the aforementioned Sami Salo play are other incidents, such as his cheap hit on Daniel Sedin after a whistle, a boarding play on James Neal (for which he escaped suspension), a punch to the head of Tomas Plekanec, his slew-foot on Matt Niskanen and many, many more. If these isolated incidents don’t seem like much, just watch a Bruins game with him in the lineup. You will see what kind of player he is.

This is the kind of thing that doesn’t belong in the game. It’s clear when you watch him play that he knows it and chooses not to care. I tense up every time I watch him play, because I worry about him pulling some slimy, dangerous move and seriously hurting one of his opponents. Brad Marchand has no apparent regard for the integrity of the game.

To call him a player who “plays with edge” would be a gross mischaracterization and an injustice to the many gutsy NHLers who, no matter how tough they may play, stay within the confines of sportsmanship.

I am not the type of person who longs for the moment when someones exacts revenge, especially if it means dangerously injuring Marchand. A big, clean hit here and there would suffice. One day though, as Alain Vigneault said, he will irk the wrong person, and someone bigger and smarter than him will catch him in a moment.

I’m all for agitators who you love to hate. But not this.

Marchand has had one or two negative stories come out about him, related to off-ice incidents. But I am choosing not to base my criticism on such things.

There a many players who have had “things” away from the arena. They are often not reflective of the player as a person or an athlete. So for that reason, I am speaking only to the things Marchand does on the ice.

Brad Marchand truthfully has no grounds for his publicly announced hatred of Tomas Plekanec. I don’t care that it wasn’t on TSN or NESN. It was said in public.

As I said before, there are things that happen between players of which we never hear. So who knows what fuelled his feelings. But the problem doesn’t lie with him hating Tomas Plekanec; the problem lies with him hating anybody at all.

Through his five years in the NHL, Brad Marchand has earned himself a spot on my list of current players for whom I have zero respect. His is the only name on it.

He plays a classless and disgraceful brand of hockey. He plays a brand of hockey not worthy of the high prestige that comes with being an NHL player.

Well done Brad Marchand. Well done, as a representative of the NHL, the Boston Bruins, and as an example to all of the kids in Massachusetts. Bravo once again. Keep it up. Class act, buddy, Class act.

Tags: Boston Bruins Brad Marchand Montreal Canadiens Tomas Plekanec

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