(SOURCE): Brad Marchand called out the “passengers” on the Bruins as the playoffs slipped away last season, and discussed how difficult that was with CSNNE Bruin’s Insider Joe Haggerty. “It was really tough,” said Marchand. “In our group, with the team we have in this organization, we expect guys to come in every night and be prepared to lay their bodies on the line. The majority of the guys wanted nothing more to be in the playoffs last year and even if you have one passenger, that’s enough to ruin your chances.”
I’ve always been of the mindset that when professional athletes, or in this case teams, that have been successful then suddenly don’t look themselves it can only be one of two things; injury or personal issues. The talent just doesn’t disappear overnight amongst all players at once. Yes, individuals battle with injury while the team around them plugs away. But when the entire team looks off then it’s something deeper. With the Boston Bruins last year it was just that.
Brad Marchand’s comments this week, revealing there were cracks in the locker room last season, are refreshing. It’s nice to hear him candidly say the team wasn’t right as a group. “In the past years, we were family, but for some reason this past year we were definitely a little bit divided, and had different cliques,” Marchand stated.
There was the trading of Johnny Boychuk that rocked the core of the team and fan base on the eve of the seasons start. The departure of Shawn Thornton via free agency left a hole in leadership and accountability. And rookies were called up to an injury depleted Bruins squad that didn’t seem equipped to integrate youth both on and off the ice.
Fans could see the Bruins lacked fight last season. They lacked the next gear. Carl Soderberg looked uninspired; his rights were traded away this summer. Reilly Smith appeared to give little, he’s now gone. Dougie Hamilton didn’t want to be a Bruin, he’s now gone too. As Marchand alluded to, their effort on ice was personified by their locker room makeup and relationships. The new faces brought in this offseason; Jimmy Hayes, Matt Beleskey, Matt Irwin, Zac Rinaldo, and even late season acquisition Brett Connolly all project the exact opposite attitude. They openly want to be here and play for each other and the spoked “B” on the front of the sweater.
At 27-years-old and armed with his comments Marchand has an opportunity to have a big year on and off ice. He may be known league wide as a pest, but he cares, and has a Cup ring to prove his worth. He can lead in the culture change, and push for that first 30-goal season he’s just narrowly missed before. His airing of last years baggage has cleaned the slate for the new-look Bruins. It’s pushed it into the past and out of sight. It’s now onto this season, the new attitude, and a fresh start.