Rob Gronkowski’s departure from the New England Patriots offered a reminder: There sure have been some fascinating athletes to come through this region.
As such, NESN.com is taking local fans on a lighthearted trip down memory lane by highlighting 10 “charismatic characters” in Boston sports history. You know, those enthralling players with big personalities who captivated audiences for reasons beyond their on-field performance.
Brad Marchand doesn’t have the most clean-cut reputation on the ice.
The winger has spent all 11 seasons of his NHL career with the Boston Bruins and long has been one of the top offensive contributors on the team’s first line. He’s been to the Stanley Cup Final three times, winning hockey’s ultimate prize in 2011, and has continued to pile up points at an impressive clip.
Marchand is known for more than just scoring goals and tallying assists, though. He’s gotten himself into some trouble on the ice more than once in his career.
The scrappy winger has been spotted licking opponents’ faces when they get too close or taunt him, seemingly drawing the ire of the NHL and those on the receiving end of his unconventional tactics.
The attitude is something that’s long been in the works for Marchand. He explained in a piece for The Players’ Tribune in April 2018 that he was told as a kid he had a 0.01 percent chance of making it to the NHL. And knowing he never was the most talented player on any team and only stood 5-foot-9, he needed to have an edge — something that’d make him stand out from the rest.
His answer? Be a pest.
Marchand knows a lot of people don’t like him on the ice. Based on some of his trash talking, face licking and questionable hits, the opposing vitriol is understandable. Still, being a pest has worked.
Not only did Marchand make it to the NHL. He’s also now among the game’s elite players, turning heads with both his skill and his antics.
Marchand is a notorious pest on the ice, sure. But off the ice, he doesn’t hide from anything he’s done.
After licking Ryan Callahan’s face in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2018, Marchand was happy to explain why it made sense.
“My mom likes to say that I came out of the womb ‘mischievous.‘ ”
— Marchand, in an April 2018 piece for The Players’ Tribune.
“If part of his M.O. is to annoy people, (he should) find a different way to annoy them, that’s basically what is in front of him now.”
— Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, on May 6, 2018, after Marchand got spoken to by the league.
Thumbnail photo via Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports Images