Brad Marchand had no idea going into Monday night’s match between the Boston Bruins and New Jersey Devils that it would be his 800th career game in the NHL.
That didn’t seem to matter, as the left winger notched two assists en route to a 3-0 victory that clinched a playoff spot.
That level of play, at almost 33 years old now, has been the standard since he was selected by the Bruins in the third round of the 2006 NHL Draft. And it’s helped him defy all odds.
“Yeah, I feel very fortunate, I actually didn’t know,” Marchand told reporters of the milestone before the game. “It’s a nice little milestone. I think the biggest thing is just, as you get older, it’s all about how you take care of yourself and you kind of learn that at a younger age, I had great leaders the whole time that I’ve been able to watch and learn from, so that’s good. Another game but hopefully there’s many more.”
He had great leaders, indeed. Some of them, like Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron, also have been benefitting from longevity in their own NHL careers.
And though they’ve been doing it longer, Bergeron spoke to what impressed him about Marchand as a rookie coming into camp.
“The first time I saw him on the ice I think it was training camp, and the one thing I remember was his competitive level in every drill,” Bergeron told reporters of his teammate in a postgame Zoom availability. “Being on that puck and hunting it and not quitting on any play. And really you could tell that he wanted to make an impression, right away from Day 1. He had that will, and you know that little extra, that a little something that you need to be a great player and to me, it’s that compete level and that work ethic that has helped him so much to be now, probably one of the best left wingers in the game.”
It’s high, but warranted praise.
In the 12th year of his career, Marchand has accumulated 63 points (27 rebounds, 36 assists) and his name has been thrown into the hat for Hart Trophy candidates — probably because he has a great attitude about all the work it’s taken to get him there.
“It’s been a fun ride,” Marchand said. “There’s no question about that, it’s it’s been an incredible journey and, you know, we’re so fortunate to play this game and your career could end on any day. So every day that we get, it truly is a gift. And I’m just trying to make the most of it and enjoy every day.”