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Marchand changes his game heading into first round series against Leafs

No longer a distraction to his team, Marchand opens up about the change that he’s made.

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Ask 100 NHL players who their most hated player in the league is and you’re likely to get one answer: Brad Marchand. Ask those same players if they’d like Marchand as a teammate and you’re likely to receive an emphatic, “Oh HELL yes!”

The little ball of hate, the rat, the pest… whatever you want to call him… Marchand has earned himself a reputation over the course of his NHL career but he’s worked hard this season to erase some of the negative aspects from his game. Marchand skated through the 2018-19 regular season without any supplemental discipline from the league and, most notably, has not licked anyone since last postseason.

In a one on one interview with NBC Sports Boston’s Joe Haggerty, Marchand opened up for the first time on the changes he’s made to his game and how it’s enabled him to become a 100 point player.

Check out some of these quotes:

“It was probably my biggest goal at the beginning of the year. Everybody has different goals, but that was my biggest one: Managing my emotions. There were a couple of times where I was definitely close to stepping into that area where bad things can happen. It felt good to kind of reel it back in and not let anything bad happen. I got through it so far, but there’s time left [in the playoffs]. I need to keep controlling it for the next little while and then we move on to next year.”
“[Last spring] was definitely part of it. That kind of blew up to be bigger than I expected. The biggest thing was [my] kind of not understanding the implications of some of the things that were going on. It was my biggest downfall is not really looking ahead to see the future impact of things I was doing,” said Marchand, when asked by NBCSportsBoston.com how much last spring’s playoffs impacted his new-found discipline this season. “I haven’t always agreed with my suspensions and how things have always played out, so I’m not going to say that was everything. But [the licking incident and its backlash] was one of those things where the group was taking some heat and it was bad timing. That probably sparked [the change] more than anything else.”

Marchand’s coach Bruce Cassidy has also noticed a marked change in Marchand’s behavior, but wonders if the Leafs have a trick up their sleeve to get Marchand off his game.

Again, check out these quotes from Haggerty’s column:

“I think it’s great because last season he stood up and said was going to go out and do that. And he certainly has his doubters. Rightfully so because he’s been in hot water before,” said Cassidy. “But he’s kept his nose clean, true to his word. I don’t think he’s even been close to where you’d think, ‘What’s going on? He’s going over the edge.’ He backed it up.
“It’s the playoffs, so hopefully Toronto doesn’t have some game plan to get him off. I can’t imagine he would go down that road because he understands how valuable he is to the team. He probably enjoys it because he was able to keep it clean for the last six or seven months now, and he’s probably gained more respect for how dominant of a player he can be.”

Marchand is confident in his restraint though and believes he’s better equipped now to handle anything that anyone, including the Leafs, can throw at him.

The biggest thing for me is taking a pretty hard look in the mirror and realize that some of the things I’m doing have much bigger consequences. The last thing I ever want to do is bring embarrassment to my teammates and the organization like I did. I have to be a lot better. I know I have said that in the past, but I think that’s got to be the thing that I really work on the most.”

Puck drop is 7pm tonight from TD Garden. Let’s go, Marchy!