Why Bradley Marchand Is Good For Hockey
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of everyday's
Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
I love thee with the passion put to use
In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better after death. - Elizabet Barret Browning
"Brab Marchand, how do I hate thee. Let me count the ways." - Rich Lindbloom and a lot of other NHL fans
It was a scene that could have been straight out of the movie Slap Shot.
I believe it was Game Three in the Columbus vs Boston playoff game. A fan held up a placard that said, "Fish Face Is Trash." I guess I'm not the only hockey fan that wants to see Marchand assisted off the ice. I don't want him carried off on a stretcher - that would be un-Christian like of me. However, I have no problem with two of his teammates sort of carrying him to the bench as he endeavors to sort things out. Clearly hockey games, to their fans blood thirsty approval, are always a split second away from Slap Shot type moments.
We'll get back to another Slapshot type moment at the close of this reflection, but seriously, does anyone put "foiling up" past Marchand?
The more hockey changes, the more it remains the same. Villains are part and parcel of what captivates us, as we observe the controlled mayhem on frozen pond. As Don Cherry once noted, "When is the last time you saw a fan get up to go to the concession stand when a fight broke out?"
Now we all know, at least Blackhawk fans that is, that hockey is a sophisticated game. The speed, finesse and skill of players making subconscious moves as they fly up the ice is sheer poetry. But it is the ever present anticipation of all hell breaking lose in the back of our minds, that keeps us on the edge of our seats. You can keep your "lovely passes;" hit someone damn it! Like a NASCAR fan, we long for collisions.
Other sports just don't seem to draw the ire, passion and hatred of the opposition that hockey does. Maybe it's because there is no plexi-glass to bang on in other sports. I know I'm not the only one who pounds my fist when a fight breaks out exclaiming, "Hit em, again, and again." I hit my hand so hard one time I was afraid I broke it. I think it was after Raffi Torres blindsided Marion Hossa in a playoff game. Clearly, the nozzles on the other team must be made aware of the wickedness of their ways. John Scott's fight with Patrick Kane in the All-Star game in Nashville, turned the tide for is team! That's hockey baby!
As I reflected on Marchand, images of villains from cartoons and movies came to mind. For those of us as old as dirt, there was Boris Badanuv and his intriguing cohort Natasha. There would have been one less Nell Fenwick in the world if it weren't for the heroic actions of Dudley Do-Right, (think Jonathan Toews riding backwards on a horse), untying Nell from the train tracks seconds before a speeding locomotive annihilated her. Snidely Whiplash, like Marchand, had a penchant for malfeasance. He clearly did not abide by the rules.
"But I can't pay the rent!" - Nell
As I reflected on evil characters from movies, one in particular came to mind. Nurse Ratched, The Joker, Lord Voldemort, Gollum, Norman Bates and Cruella Deville were close seconds. However, the best visual representation I can think of to encapsulate the essence of Brad Marchand is from the movie The Warriors. I give you Luther, the leader of The Rogues. His reason for killing Cyrus is so Marchand like;
"When asked, Luther tells Swan he shot Cyrus for no reason, because he gets a thrill out of things like that."
"Blues, come out to play."
The point is though, as much as you hated Luther and his clanging bottles, he made the movie. He was evil personified, and for some reason we become infatuated with these type of characters. I'm going with Original Sin.
The game of hockey is laden with players we want to see subjected to a five on one beat down. Alexadre Burrows deserves his own sentence. Raffi Torres, Matt Cooke, Joe Thorton, David Backes, Antoine Russel, Bryan Watson (way back machine candidate), Chris Pronger, Tom Wilson, Corey Perry, Dustin Brown, Ryan Kesler, Barret Jackman and Roman Polak - aaarrrggghhh, Matt Tkachuk, Dino Cicarelli, Danny Carcillo, Bobby Clarke - (how my soul longed for someone to pound that agitating weasel), Kevin Bieksa and the exceedingly annoying Steve Ott, are a few more nozzles. Hell, in Sundays playoff game against the Sharks, Ott was jawboning with Joe Thorton from behind the blues bench! What's that old saying "a leopard can't change his spots?" I hate to admit it, but characters like "Otter" is part of what makes the game of hockey so alluring.
And that is just scratching the surface. I recall I didn't care much for Harold Snepts or Tiger Williams either! The original "Tiger" is still the all time penalty leader in the NHL at 3,971 minutes in the time out box. The bombastic Canuck was followed by the dastardly Dale Hunter - 3,565 minutes, and Ty (Rockem Sockem Robot) Domi - 3,515 minutes. St Louis Blues coach, Craig Berube is 7th on the all time list at 3,149 minutes.
Ri-dem Tiger! Ugliest Hockey uniform Ever?
What would hockey be without these characters? I'm glad you asked.
In a rare instance of a Blackhawk player resorting to skullduggery, Terry Ruskowski -pugilist extraordinaire, comes to mind. I was at a game in the old Chicago Stadium, and for one reason or another, Ruskowski tried to pick a fight with a Maple Leaf player for the first two periods of the game. Ruskowski was just a flat out mean adversary. Throughout this game, #8 slashed and speared the Leaf center repeatedly. Finally, the Maple's center reluctantly dropped the gloves in the third period. As they squared off and the other combatants on the ice grabbed a dance partner, a fan who looked like an Certified Public Accountant jumped onto the ice. He had a pressed white shirt and classy gabardine's. His shoes were most certainly constructed from Italian leather.
He ran a few steps and then slid up to the Toronto player who was tangled up with Ruskowski, intent on joining the extracurricular activities. When he got close enough to land a blow, he launched a haymaker at the Leaf combatant. The Maples took offense to this, skating up to the lunatic, trying to kick him with their skates. Even the visionaries of the movie Slapshot could not draw up this scene! As the crowd was whipped into a piranha like frenzy, Grant Mulvey tried talking some sense into the fan. For his efforts, Mulvey was punched by the lunatic. My guess is, there had to be a woman involved.
About six of Chicago's finest, finally corralled him, and in a theater of the absurd moment, took him to the penalty box. Let's just leave it at, "all hell was breaking bad" in the box for about a minute. The bean counter finally jumped up, with his hands handcuffed behind his back. While he was escorted through the stands, for some unknown reason, we gave the guy a standing ovation.
The oddest part of this entire incident, was there wasn't even a hard body check the rest of the game. Ruskowski and his adversary never even swung at each other. In a clear cut case of the pot calling the kettle black, they looked at each other with a glance that sort of said, "That guy is nuts." This fan, for the rest of this contest at least, had temporarily taken the violence out of hockey. To be quite frank, it wan't hockey - it was boring! There was more contact at a piano recital. It was like the final scene in Slapshot where Ned Braden does a strip tease amidst a bench clearing brawl.
Again, I'm convinced hockey needs the ever expectant air of violence to appease most fans. You need "Kick his ass Seabass," type moments in hockey. Players like Brad Machand are integral to this often times hidden desire.
One of my favorite moments in hockey was when the Hawks bested the Bruins in 2013. While the "17 seconds" when Brian Bickell and Dave Bolland stunned the Boston faithful was certainly a thrilling moment, a lightweight bout between Marchand and Andrew Shaw is one that will forever be etched upon my mind. Andrew got the best of Bradley and as the refs tried to untangle them, Shaw landed one more cheap shot. I'm not sure, but I may have been pounding my hand at that moment. I had no problem with Shaw administering righteous justice to the agitator extraordinaire. Marchand did not mess with Shaw the rest of the Series.
I think my ever burgeoning antipathy for Marchand can best be described by an incident that almost happened at the outdoor Ribbon Skating Facility in Millenium Park before the Winter Classic last year. It's a tradition that I, my daughter, son and some of their friends go skate there every Christmas season. We always follow that up by having dinner at Dues, my favorite pizza place in Chicago. LOL - my son has to tie my skates for me now, due to an arthritic hip - you know you're getting old when....
At any rate, there were some Boston fans visiting our fair city in anticipation of the game the next day. This kid, who seemed to be about 8 years old, was buzzing in and out of the heavy traffic on the Ribbon. He was exceedingly annoying. Does it really surprise anyone that he was donning a Marchand jersey?! I told my son, "Greg, I'm really considering running that kid over." What kind of parent lets his kid where a #63 sweater?!
Ah, Brad Marchand, the player you love to hate. (oxymoron alert) Long may there be players in the NHL of his ilk. Do you think when all is said and done, St. Louis coach Craig Berube will be putting a bounty on Marchand's head like Coach Reggie Dunlop did on Killer Carlson in Slapshot? Players like Tim "Dr. Hook" McCracken, desperately need to be straitened out. Although I'm guessing that is sort of a losing battle!
Other Important Stuff:
Go Blues! A friend who was castigating me for cheering for the Blues throughout the playofss said, "Make sure you tell everyone your rooting for the Blues." Jim, a diehard Sox fan, said he would root for the Cubs before he cheered on St. Louis. LOL- hatred in it's purest form!
Do the Bruins have a name for arguably the best line in the NHL at the moment; Marchand/Bergeron/Pastrnak?
The thing that bugs me most about Marchand, is he's so damn good. He has vision on the ice similar to Patrick Kane's.
Both the Blues and Bruins have outstanding fourth lines.
I texted a customer back in December and said, "I really think the Hawks and Blues are much better than their records." They were in last and second to last place at the time. Once again, this is proof, that I indeed do know hockey!
The villains in hockey generally are pretty decent people off the ice. Some of you Original Six fans may recall Bobby Hull screaming at Sid Abel, the Wings coach, "I'm sick of you and your Detroit hatchet men." It seemed like Hull would lock horns with his omnipresent shadow on the wings, Bryan "Bugsy" Watson, every time they played. Those were some bloody battles. Oddly, a friend happened to chance upon a bar in Alexandria, Virginia. It was owned by Watson, and my friend struck up a conversation with him. Ben told Watson, "You know, you weren't too well liked in Chicago." Bugsy laughed and bought them a round!
Could this Finals be coined "The Dirty Water Series?" You've got the dirty waters of the Charles River, semi immortalized by the Standell's, and of course The Muddy Mississip.
Finally, you may think of me as a cretin for my views on violence in hockey, but if you claim to watch this sport solely for its "lovely passes," you're lying and the truth ain't in ya.
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