In fact, coming into Thursday's contest with the Canadiens, Marchand had just one fighting major in his first 130 regular-season and playoff games in the NHL. Little did he know he'd have to drop his gloves three times to get his second official fight in his 131st game.
In one of the few highlights in another dreary 2-1 loss for the Bruins, Marchand brought the Garden crowd to life with a series of escalating altercations with Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban in the second period.
The fireworks began at 13:47 when Marchand took exception to an elbow from Subban and dropped the gloves for the first time. But no punches were thrown as they grabbed on and were quickly smothered by a host of other players led by Subban's blue-line partner Josh Gorges. Marchand and Subban's first attempt was so poor that the referees didn't even give them roughing minors. Instead, they were charged with matching holding penalties.
Six seconds after leaving the box they were at it again, this time with Subban initiating the dance. They squared off and shed the mitts, but linesman Scott Driscoll stepped between them to prevent any punches and they were given matching minors again, this time for delay of game.
"I don't think there was a need to jump in the second time there," Marchand said. "Unfortunately it was an extra two minutes off the ice, but we were still able to fight after that."
Two seconds after that penalty expired, Marchand and Subban finally got their fight.
"I think it all started off the draw," Marchand said. "He kind of gave me a little shot with his elbow and I grabbed him and he grabbed me. I thought he wanted to go then so I dropped my gloves. Then we were in the box and he asked me to go and I said no. Then we back in the second time and he asked me again and I couldn't say no then. It was nice to get it out of the way."
A long square-off saw both combatants take off not just their gloves, but also their helmets and elbow pads. After all the buildup, the bout nearly ended with one punch when Subban missed with a wild haymaker and fell flat on his face to the delight of the Garden faithful.
"I'm not a very good fighter, so I guess you could say I was going for the knockout, but it was a pretty bad attempt," said Subban, who had four previous career fights in the NHL. "So I don't know, I'm probably better to keep my gloves on most of the time."
Marchand let Subban get up and right himself, and the battle continued. Subban continued to swing wildly in an entertaining but sloppy affair, while the smaller Marchand was able to sneak in a few shots before it was broken up with the pair finally getting their fighting majors at 17:55.
"I didn't want to hit him when he was down," Marchand said. "Might as well keep it going so we didn't have to go a fourth time there, so I let him get back up and we went from there."
Marchand and Subban have some history, with both a friendship born as teammates in the junior ranks and a rivalry fueled by their encounters in the pros. They won a gold medal together with Team Canada in the 2008 World Junior Championships, but Subban also blasted Marchand with a devastating open-ice hit in Montreal last year.
"We really haven't had any other altercations other than when he hit me up in Montreal," Marchand said. "But stuff happens in a game like this and emotions ran a little high.
"If I see him somewhere I will definitely talk to him," Marchand added. "We don't really keep in contact or anything. It's a job right now. Guys are friends all the time off the ice, but on the ice if they're on the other team you're going to have to take runs at them and do what you have to do to win. That's all it is."
Subban agreed, and didn't expect Thursday's bout to cause any lingering friction between them.
"I know Marshy pretty well and it's just a matter of us both being frustrated out there and that's how you settle your differences," Subban said. "I mean, we were kind of laughing about it after, we gave each other a pat on the pads. I don't think there's any true animosity between us two. But like I said, we have quite the past, winning a gold medal together. But it's a game, you know, that's what the fans want, that's what both teams want. It's energy out there. It's fun."
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