BOSTON — Coming into camp, Brad Marchand didn't know if he would even have a job in Boston this season.
Seventy-four games, 21 goals and 41 points later, Marchand hasn't just established himself as a fixture in the Bruins' lineup, he's taken home some hardware after being named the NESN 7th Player Award winner on Saturday.
"Yeah, well it was a question mark whether I was going to be on the team this year," Marchand said. "It's an honor to win that award. It's special."
The 7th Player Award goes to the Bruin who most exceeds expectations, and Marchand's breakthrough season in his first full year in the NHL certainly met that criteria.
"I think I was expected to be defensively responsible and bring energy into the game," Marchand said. "Now I think I still have to do the exact same thing, but maybe bring a little more offense."
Marchand has added some needed grit to the Bruins' lineup with his agitating style, albeit with the occasional incident of stepping over the line. He was suspended two games last month for an elbow to the head of Columbus forward R.J. Umberger and drew the ire of both the Maple Leafs and Bruins coach Claude Julien when he made a golf swing gesture to the Toronto bench on Thursday, implying that the Leafs will soon be hitting the links instead of playing in the playoffs this year.
But most of his antics have served the Bruins well in getting under the opposition's skin in acceptable ways, and Marchand has shown he's a lot more than just a pest with his surprising offensive production. Well, surprising to everyone except Marchand, who early on in the season predicted he would score 20 goals this year.
"First of all, I think it's very deserving and that's certainly not to take away some of the other guys that have made tremendous steps as well," Julien said. "But he's one of those guys that obviously surpassed a lot of our expectations, obviously not his because he had made that prediction [to score 20 goals]. But nonetheless, I think he's been a real good player for us from starting off on the fourth line and really making that line probably one of the best fourth lines we've had here for a long, long time and obviously was probably one of the best fourth lines in the league.
"He graduated obviously with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Rex [Mark Recchi] and those guys have certainly, as much as he's benefited from them, they've benefited from him as well," Julien added. "They know that. He's such a good skater and he plays hard every night. He's been a real good player for us and I think it's going to be exciting to see him jump into the playoffs, just by the way he is. He's going to be pumped for that and I think he's going to be a really good asset for our hockey club."
Marchand was up with the big club during last year's playoff run, but did not dress for any postseason games. So he is certainly anxious to get his first taste of playoff action later this month with the Bruins having already locked up a berth and also clinching the Northeast Division title with Saturday's 3-2 win over Atlanta.
"I'm very excited," said Marchand, who picked up an assist in Saturday's victory. "Last year at playoff time it was an unbelievable atmosphere. Every day you came to the rink it was a lot of fun. Playoffs are the best time of the year. It's what you play all year for. You play to win the Cup, and to have the opportunity to play in the playoffs, it's special."
That big trophy given out at the end of the postseason is the one that Marchand, like the rest of the Bruins, really wants to get his hands on, but for now he's more than happy to hold on to the 7th Player Award.
"It's a special feeling," Marchand said. "It's a big honor to receive that award. A lot of great players have won it in the past, and especially when the fans are picking it it's a big honor.
"It's special, but obviously those are some big shoes to fill," Marchand added. "So I have a lot of work to do."
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