BOSTON — Despite being the shortest player on the ice Friday afternoon, Brad Marchand was impossible to miss.
The 5-foot-9 winger was the clear tone-setter on Day 2 of Bruins training camp, flying around the TD Garden rink as the B’s laced up their skates for their first official on-ice practice of the new season.
Marchand’s intensity did not go unnoticed by head coach Claude Julien, who noted that the 27-year-old is making an effort to improve his off-ice leadership, as well.
?I think he wants to really be a good example this year,” Julien said. “He?s come in with a real good attitude, thinking it?s time for him to step up and take an even bigger role than before. He?s always been a pretty good guy in the dressing room as far as the things that have to be done in order to win, whether it?s trying to rally the guys or that kind of stuff. But he?s taken that next step, again. And again, leading by example is always a great way to do it.
“He?s come in in unbelievable shape, probably his best shape ever. And that?s not to say he wasn?t in good shape before, but he?s in even better shape now. He?s doing the things and showing the things that indicate that he wants to be a real good leader and wants to lead by example.”
The prospect of leadership still is somewhat strange for Marchand, who’s been known around the league as a master agitator for much of his six-year NHL career. He’s one of the longest-tenured players on the Bruins roster, however, and he realizes the responsibility that comes with that kind of seniority.
“I think it’s just kind of where I’m at now,” said Marchand, who participated in the last of Friday’s three practice sessions. “I’m one of the older guys if you look around the room. It’s a bit of a weird position to be in, but I am looking at taking more of a leader role. It’s something that I’m going to have to force a little bit, but we’ve got a lot of great guys that kind of take over when the time’s right with Bergy (Patrice Bergeron), Kells (Chris Kelly) and Z (Zdeno Chara), and I can kind of sit back at the right time. But great guys to learn from, and I’m just looking forward to start the year.”
As for the intensity Marchand brings to practice, his rationale behind that is simple: He’s seen it work before.
?It?s something that, the year we won (the Stanley Cup in 2011), I think everyone knows that in practice, we were extremely competitive,” Marchand explained. “We knew it was nothing personal — we were just trying to push each other to get better. As long as you go out there and you know that that?s what you?re going to get, then you can do the same thing. At the end of the drill, you give (each other) a tap, and you move on.
“Sometimes you don?t like it at the time, but it?s only pushing us to be a better team and a better group, and that?s what we need. We want to start right now and make sure we carry that through training camp and into the season.”
Thumbnail photo via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images