Brad Marchand (Getty Images)
Professional irritant Brad Marchand was recently asked which NHLer agitates him the most. His answer was Tomas Plekanec. "I hate him. I can't stand him," Marchand said. How fun!
The Montreal Canadiens and Boston Bruins rivalry is…heated you might say. It’s one that dates back to the early days of the NHL, of course, and it’s never really let up.
The two teams have met in four of the past seven post-seasons, with each winning two series. But the styles of these two couldn't be much different. Boston is a team that always tries to play on the edge and gets the most out of its players when they’re physical and able to get a retaliatory rise out of their opponents. The Habs, a smaller team, didn’t let the Bruins get to them in their second round series this past spring and ended up winning in seven games that were still all very heated contests.
You’ll remember the series ended with Milan Lucic’s epic meltdown in the handshake line, where he apparently threatened to kill Dale Weise and inspired an incredible T-shirt, to say nothing of the backlash to his offenses on twitter and other social media platforms. Lucic may have been a cheap crotch-seeker too often last season, but I find entertainment in the kind of over-the-top explosiveness he showed at the end of the series.
And it appears those hateful feelings still linger amongst Bruins agitators.
At the Phoenix House Champions for Change dinner in Halifax on Tuesday, American League president Dave Andrews asked Brad Marchand which NHL player irritated him the most. Which is ironic, considering Marchand would probably top the list of most other NHLers if they faced the question.
“Tomas Plekanec from Montreal…I hate him. I can’t stand him. No, I probably shouldn’t say that. I dislike him very much. Somebody is going to call and get mad at me tomorrow.”
Like Marchand or loathe him, you have to appreciate when a professional athlete speaks freely. Even though he tried to put those words back in his mouth, it was too late. And that’s cool.
Judging by his last line there, you’d have to think he’s been given a talking to from someone high up in Bruins management before. Marchand is employed for his skill, sure, but he’s also there to be a pest and get in the face of the best players on the opposing team. He’s paid, partially, to toe the line and the residual effect is that he may cross it from time to time, whether with actions or words. You can punish the actions, but the harmless words add fun and strengthen a hateful rivalry we go out of our way to watch. The words are fine. The physical actions can be just plain stupid sometimes. Remember this from Game 7?
Surely, Marchand will take his lumps for this quote because by nature he’s a divisive player. His backers will back him, his detractors will detract him for having the audacity to say such a thing. But in the end, we all get some harmless entertainment out of this and something to laugh or shake our head at (depending on your allegiance) over the summer. And when Boston and Montreal faceoff next season, we’ll be watching, looking for the hate to surface.
And if Marchand’s words really irritate you, he’s already won.