(Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images)

Pest. Diver. Fake tough guy. All those words — and I’ve chosen the nice ones — have been used to describe the polarizing play of Brad Marchand by non-Boston Bruins fans. But, one descriptor isn’t being thrown around nearly enough representing Marchand’s ability: Superstar.

By and large, Marchand’s NHL production puts him in an elite class. Since the start of the 2015-16 season, the 28-year-old ranks fifth (behind Vladimir Tarasenko, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane) in total goals with 74. Those are huge names to be grouped with.

In 2016-17, Marchand’s taken his game to new heights, ranking second leaguewide in goals (37) and tied for third in points (79). With Patrice Bergeron by his side, Marchand generates possession, scores goals and is hard to play against.

With such strong production, why is the perception around Marchand so negative? Well, it’s somewhat deserved.

Since entering the league, Marchand’s been suspended four times total and fined twice. Even the NHL’s biggest “goons” don’t possess such lengthy rap sheets. Marchand’s talents are often overshadowed by recklessness. Often, he just doesn’t think while he’s out on the ice — a dangerous attitude to have, regardless of prowess.


On the flip side, fans across the league take shots at Marchand because of his Oscar-worthy acting performance on the ice. Routinely, Marchand will make contact look much worse than it actually is. Marchand will attempt to draw a penalty at the expense of credibility if there’s the option too.

Personally, I agree, diving and flailing around the ice looks bad for the sport, but if Marchand can draw a penalty or irritate opposing players, then why not? It’s clear, he doesn’t give a crap what opposing fans think of him as long as Boston wins. He’s the perfect example of the player archetype “I hate him, but if he was on my team I’d love him.”

Taking the edge – at least the dirty part – out of Marchand’s game, would do a lot in cementing his status as one of the league’s most prolific talents. But, at the same time, Marchand’s developed a reputation for this kind of stuff. As great as it would be to see him tone the shenanigans down, it’s unlikely to happen. A leopard can’t change its spots.

Ultimately, we’ve got to take the good with the bad with Marchand and realize the good is really damn good.

Love him or hate him, Marchand is a Hart Trophy favorite. His production is elite.

He’s done everything asked and more to ensure the Bruins are entrenched in the Stanley Cup playoff race. Previously in a dire situation, Marchand helped elevate the club into the third spot in the Atlantic Division. Boston continues to climb.

Keep calling him names and criticizing his actions on the ice. That’s your prerogative. But realize this, Marchand is a superstar, albeit of the unconventional variety. The sooner that’s accepted, the sooner fans will appreciate his game.

About Liam McGuire

Social +Staff writer for The Comeback & Awful Announcing. Liammcguirejournalism@gmail.com