Editor’s note: This was originally published on May 4, 2018, with Brad Marchand’s top 20 moments. Five have been added from the 2018-19 season.
You know Boston Bruins star Brad Marchand by many names. The “Little Ball of Hate,” which was a moniker first bestowed on Pat Verbeek but repurposed for a modern combination of talent and annoyance. He has been called a “Honey Badger” and “Squirrel.” He embraced “Nose-Face Killah,” a Wu-Tang Clan reference that also referenced his ample schnoz.
But here’s another name: heel.
He’s Ric Flair. He’s Chris Jericho. He’s that quintessential combination of athleticism, verbosity and a willingness to win dirty that creates a character you love to hate, when you’re not just outright hating him.
As Marchand relayed in 2018 in The Players’ Tribune:
“I have done things that have stepped over that line, and I’ve paid the price for it. But you know what? There’s a lot of people out there in the hockey world who love to say, ‘Winning is everything. It’s the only thing.’ But do they really mean it? How far are they willing to go? Maybe it was my size, or just the way I was born, but I’ve always felt like you have to be willing to do anything — literally anything — in order to win. Even if that means being hated. Even if it means carrying around some baggage. If I played the game any other way, you absolutely would not know my name. You wouldn’t care enough to hate me, because I wouldn’t be in the NHL.”
Oh, he’s noticed — for plays on the edge, over the edge and that frankly define the edge.
Here are the top 25 heel moments for Marchand during his NHL career:
25. Sucker-punching Gabriel Landeskog (November 2015)
This was a curious one. Landeskog was given a match penalty for illegally hitting Marchand in the head and was later given a two-game suspension for it. Marchand responded to that hit with a gloved punch to the head of the Avalanche forward, for which he was given a $5,000 fine.
Marchand said after the game that he didn’t consider Landeskog a dirty player. Said Landeskog: “Right away, like I said, I tried to let up, and then I tried to skate up and apologize and tell him I didn’t mean to come across. And he … obviously he wasn’t hurt with that sucker punch. Like I said, I’m happy he didn’t get hurt.”
24. Snowing Carey Price (May 2014)
In a Game 7 (!) against the Montreal Canadiens, Carey Price froze the puck at the top of his crease to stop play. Marchand was skating toward him, stopped and created a spray of ice like he had a snow blower strapped to his calf. Marchand was given a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct, much to Pierre McGuire’s chagrin. As heel moves go, this is mild.
23. Taunting Matt Cooke (June 2013)
I liked a @YouTube video http://t.co/ObeF3iwDnN Brad Marchand gets the goal then taunts Matt Cooke HD Game 2 June 3 2013
– GUITARMANJT! (@GUITARMANJT1990) February 7, 2015
Taunting Matt Cooke is God’s work, and Marchand did his service in the Bruins’ Eastern Conference final against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He and Cooke exchanged pleasantries, and then Marchand scored on a wicked snipe.
How did he celebrate? By immediately searching out Cooke and calling to him, then saying, “What?! What?!” In other words, the best celebration.
22. Slew-footing Matt Niskanen (December 2011)
This slew-foot on the then-Penguins defenseman was notable for having resulted in one of only seven career fights for Marchand. He was given a $2,500 fine for this slew-foot behind the goal. After the game, Marchand was … contrite?
“It was a dangerous play and it was definitely a slew-foot,” he told the gathered media. “Those are dangerous plays, and guys can get hurt like that. It’s something I shouldn’t have done, and they penalized me for it, and I’ll move on now.”
21. Calling out P.K. Subban (March 2013)
Marchand’s equal when it comes to controversy and trash talk is “frenemy” P.K. Subban. When Subban was with the Canadiens, these two players battled on the regular, on and off the ice. That included in the dressing room, where Marchand would wage the war of words.
As in this March 2013 game: “Subban was asking me to fight. Three or four guys asked to fight him, and he’s running scared,” Marchand said of Subban. “But he comes after the smallest guy on the team. It just shows you what kind of character they have there.”
Marchand cross-check on MacDonald pic.twitter.com/NU5LomKdcQ
– Pure Hockey (@PureHockey) April 2, 2018
Marchand was checked to the boards by Andrew MacDonald, who fell to the ice. Marchand then cross-checked the Flyers defenseman in the head.
Marchand was given a two-minute minor and a $5,000 fine by the NHL. Luckily, this happened before the 2018 playoffs, where cross-checks to the head were more frowned upon.
19. Slew-footing Derick Brassard (January 2015)
Brassard, then with the Rangers, had established position as the two chased a loose puck to the corner. So Marchand did as Marchand does, which is kick out Brassard’s leg from under him, causing Brassard to crash awkwardly into the boards.
“The way I fell on the ice, maybe I could have missed the rest of the season if I hurt my knee there,” Brassard said. “Marchand’s a pretty good player. He’s feisty. He competes hard. But those kind of things we don’t want in our game.” Marchand was suspended two games.
18. Clotheslining Anthony Duclair (March 2018)
Anthony Duclair suffers knee injury after collision with Brad Marchand pic.twitter.com/Z3LdZaG6Qq
– Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) March 10, 2018
Yet another case of “this looked really bad, and it involved Brad Marchand, but nothing came of it,” Marchand attempted to avoid Anthony Duclair of the Chicago Blackhawks — and then ended up clotheslining him. Marchand was given a two-minute minor for interference. Duclair’s season ended with a lower-body injury. There was no supplemental discipline.
“I think it was pretty dirty, to be honest with you. He did reach out to me after, but I’m out for the rest of the year. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the future. Hopefully I come back, but I thought it was pretty dirty,” Duclair said.
This was early-era Marchand. Watching the then-rookie clip R.J. Umberger in the head with his elbow while Umberger had his back to Marchand — for which Marchand wasn’t penalized — is like hearing “About a Girl” on Nirvana’s “Bleach” for the first time: lacking profundity, but showing undeniable potential for grateness, er, greatness to come. Marchand was suspended two games.
“I had no idea. I didn’t think it was that bad of a hit. At the time, there was no talk about it after the game, so initially, it couldn’t have been that big of a deal,” he said.
16. Laughing off diving fine (March 2018)
The NHL had warned Marchand earlier in the 2017-18 season about embellishment. Against the Penguins, Marchand appeared to trip over his own skates when Olli Maatta’s stick got near them. The NHL decided this was worth a $2,000 fine.
Said Marchand: “That hit is very small and minor. It’s the last thing I’m going to worry about. I don’t care about this. It’s a joke. It’s a small amount of money and pretty stupid. But it is what it is.” Marchand made $6.1 million in 2017-18.
15. Punching Scott Harrington (April 2019)
Brad Marchand �� ▶️▶️▶️ Scott Harrington#HfHits>pic.twitter.com/CaKUIItFmw – hockeyfights (@hockeyfights) May 1, 2019
With just over a minute left in Game 3 of a second-round series against the Blue Jackets, defenseman Scott Harrington slid on his knees to help goalie Sergei Bobrovsky cover the puck. A scrum ensued across the crease between Bruins and Jackets. Meanwhile, Marchand stood behind Harrington. You can literally watch him survey the officials as they entered the scrum to break it up, like a thief waiting for a surveillance camera to rotate in the opposite direction. Exhibiting the impulse control of a child confronted with a piñata at their birthday party, Marchand swiftly punched Harrington in the back of the head, dropping him to the ice, and then skating away like it was some kind of pugilistic mic drop.
Marchand wasn’t penalized on the play, nor did he get a hearing from the Department of Player Safety. Testifying before a Canadian Parliamentary hearing on concussions, commissioner Gary Bettman said that Marchand should have been penalized and, if it happens again, “he should look forward to a suspension.”
14. Sweeping the leg against Niklas Kronwall (January 2017)
Marchand trip on Kronwall pic.twitter.com/h84N6C6Czq
– Marina Molnar (@mkmolnar) January 25, 2017
This was, in hindsight, laughable. Marchand wasn’t penalized, so when it came to supplemental discipline, a suspension was anticipated. Instead, Marchand was fined $10,000, the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, for sticking out his leg and hitting the back of an opponent’s knee with “forechecking” that would have made the Hanson Brothers blush (and Billy Zabka proud).
“I think they might have given me a bit of a break,” Marchand said, in an understatement. “The last thing I want to be doing is continually going back and being in front of those guys. … I’m sure they’re getting sick of seeing me.” Well, yeah.
13. Stepping on Cam Atkinson’s stick (April 2019)
In overtime of Game 1 in their playoff series, Blue Jackets forward Atkinson lined up next to Marchand during a faceoff. A lot can happen in these situations, as the focus of the on-ice officials is usually centered on the faceoff. What happened here: Marchand lifted up his right skate and stepped down on Atkinson’s stick blade, breaking it.
Atkinson protested to the officials to no avail, lamenting later, “Hey, if that’s how he wants to roll.” (Spoiler: It is.) Marchand later trolled Atkinson, saying: “I think he was trying to dull my blade there. … Send me to the room, get it sharpened. It’s kind of rude of him to do.” Which was a funny joke, until it wasn’t anymore for Brad. (See No. 7 below.)
This was the end result of Brad Marchand’s encounter with Jake Dotchin. Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports
12. Spearing Jake Dotchin (April 2017)
Brad Marchand given five minutes for spearing Dotchin in the groin pic.twitter.com/f9txhbYtGL
– Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) April 4, 2017
Marchand and Dotchin were in front of the Tampa Bay net when Marchand decided to give him a swift cup-check with his stick blade. The Lightning defenseman crumpled to the ice, holding his bolts. He was still there when Marchand was ushered from the penalty box to the dressing room with a game misconduct.
11. Punching a celebrator (October 2018)
The Washington Capitals’ Stanley Cup celebration continued into opening night, and they rolled the Bruins in their home opener. It was 7-0 in the third period when Marchand grabbed Capitals center Lars Eller and started pummeling him, bloodying Eller as the two tumbled to the ice. What set him off? It turns out Marchand wasn’t a fan of his goal celebration. “His celebration was unnecessary. He took an angle in front of our bench and celebrated in a 7-0 game. So I just let him know,” Marchand said.
On Jan. 10, the teams played again and Eller attempted to have a go with Marchand, who skated away, and later said: “I haven’t looked at the stat sheet, but I really don’t feel like I need to prove anything. He plays maybe 10-12 minutes a night and I’m playing 20. In a 1-0 game and to go on a power play, it doesn’t make sense.” And with that, he landed one more good shot.
10. Brad Marchand, Twitter troll
Social media would seem like fertile ground for one of the NHL’s most renowned chirpers, and Marchand doesn’t disappoint — like making fun of someone’s looks:
The only thing defenseless is your mouth with that huge hole between your teeth. You could eat a hot dog with your mouth closed
– Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) February 13, 2018
And … making fun of someone’s looks:
If your eyes were any further apart they would be on the back of your head… just saying
– Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) March 18, 2018
And … making fun of himself:
Anyone want to play some NHL? pic.twitter.com/wdHUg2Eps6
– Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) October 20, 2017
Marchand plus Twitter equals an artist finding his perfect medium.
Report: Brad Marchand’s Low Hit On #Senators’ Borowiecki Under Review From NHL https://t.co/gZavxhB7hK https://t.co/Oh2P7OLR8x
– 98.5 The Sports Hub (@985TheSportsHub) December 30, 2015
Borowiecki bumped Marchand to allow an Ottawa Senators teammate to carry the puck out of their zone. Marchand responded by sending Borowiecki skates-over-noggin, flipping him on his head with a (unpenalized, of course) clip. The NHL gave Marchand three games, as it was within an 18-month window of another suspension.
“It was simple play. I was trying to get to the puck carrier, and I turned up ice, and he was kind of standing there. I just turned up and tried to go after the puck carrier,” Marchand explained.
8. Low-bridging Sami Salo (January 2012)
Brad Marchand hip checks Sami Salo w/SlowMo 1/7/12 http://t.co/jQwqpWl via @youtube
– Taylor Bommarito (@Bommarito23) November 22, 2012
This was the first game between the Bruins and the Canucks after their 2011 Stanley Cup Final, a seven-game series of abject brutality and melodrama that culminated with the city of Vancouver being looted and set on fire. Emotions were high.
They got higher when Marchand was hit solidly by defenseman Sami Salo. He retaliated with a few shoves before exacting revenge by flipping him along the boards with a low-bridge hit. Salo was concussed. Marchand was suspended for five games after receiving a five-minute major and a game misconduct in the game.
“It technically wasn’t a clip,” Marchand told ESPN in 2012. “Clipping is when you hit someone at the knees, and I did not hit him at the knees. Anyone that has seen the video will see that I hit him in the upper thigh under the buttocks.” Got it.
7. Giving the worst interviews ever (May 2019)
Brad Marchand, a man of many words. �� pic.twitter.com/rNJgGhc9JI – hockeyfights (@hockeyfights) May 7, 2019
The hockey world is split up into two types of player interviews: The guys who have zero interest in them, and the guys who play along. Brad Marchand, without question, falls into that latter category. At least that’s what Sportsnet’s Kyle Bukauskas figured when he jokingly asked Marchand if he “managed to get his skate sharpened” after stepping on Atkinson’s stick with it earlier in the series. (Keep in mind that Marchand himself joked about the same subject.) Marchand abruptly skated away, not appreciating someone trying to troll him or, apparently, irony.
Fast forward to Game 6 of their second-round series, and Bukauskas is tasked with interviewing a victorious Marchand after the Bruins ousted the Blue Jackets. He asked a few questions. Marchand provided the following answers:
“We did a good job.”
“It’s been fun.”
Marchand continued this routine in the media scrum in the dressing room, as he answered 19 questions using a total of 39 words, or 2.05 words per answer.
Brad Marchand’s postgame transcript. It was 1:45. pic.twitter.com/Gxdh2n8FfO – Marisa Ingemi (@Marisa_Ingemi) May 7, 2019
Even on a night when he said practically nothing, Marchand was the talk of the hockey world.
Brad Marchand is in hot water once again.
What should be the discipline for his elbow on Johansson? pic.twitter.com/M2swr9DH2a
– Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) January 24, 2018
This elbow to the head of New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson resulted in a five-game suspension that carried through the NHL All-Star Game. Johansson called the hit “sad” and “stupid” after he recovered from his second concussion in three months.
Was five games enough for Marchand?
“Ah, not really, considering this was the ninth time he’s been suspended or fined. Like I said, you hope that it doesn’t come to him ending someone’s career before it’s enough,” Johansson said.
The epilogue: As of the 2019 trade deadline, the two are teammates in Boston. “That’s water under the bridge,” Johansson said after the trade. “It’s hockey. It’s a tough game. [Marchand] called me, and we spoke for a bit, and he apologized, which I think was great. … That stuff happens a lot. It’s just fun to be here and fun to be his teammate. I think he’s one of the best players in the league. I’m (glad) to be on this side of it right now.”
5. Trolling Justin Williams (May 2019)
Brad Marchand pesters Justin Williams into a penalty – then signals the Carolina captain to the box. pic.twitter.com/0OPveb224V – Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 12, 2019
In the Bruins’ Eastern Conference finals series against the Carolina Hurricanes, Marchand decided early on that captain Justin Williams was going to be the target of his trolling. That included a moment in Game 2 that’s equal parts mind-boggling and hilarious.
Marchand took down Williams by hooking him around the neck with his stick, like he was trying to haul a marlin onto a fishing boat. He was not penalized. Williams retaliated by grabbing Marchand and ripping open his chinstrap, earning a holding penalty. (That’s the mind-boggling part.) As they separated, Marchand motioned with his hand to Williams, telling him where the penalty box was located. He then made a “C” with his glove and placed it on his chest, mocking the Hurricanes captain for taking the bait. (That’s the hilarious part.)
Whatever fuse Marchand blew in Williams, it continued into Game 3 when Williams took three penalties in the first period.
4. Brad Marchand, All-Star villain
Best, funniest, most heartwarming moments from #NHL Skills Competition. https://t.co/CuQLzc4DnD pic.twitter.com/g2hTxHGdU9
– NBC Sports (@NBCSports) January 28, 2018
Marchand attended the 2018 NHL All-Star Game at Tampa Bay while suspended for giving Johansson a concussion, and less than a year removed from spearing Dotchin in the nether region. Greeted with cascades of boos, Marchand responded by … waving and blowing kisses to the audience.
And by posing with fans with derogatory signs.
And by feigning injury when he was tripped during the All-Star Game.
It was his Loki moment: Sure, he tried to enslave humanity with the Chitauri, but how can you stay angry when he’s just so darn charming?
Brad Marchand relished playing the role of the ultimate heel at the 2018 All-Star Game in Tampa. Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
3. The Cup raise (December 2013)
Raising an invisible Stanley Cup and kissing it while you skate past the bench of the team you defeated for said Stanley Cup is twisted genius, and that’s what Marchand did to the Canucks in 2013.
He also kissed an invisible Stanley Cup ring in the same game. Marchand would claim it was a reaction to having been eye-gouged by Ryan Kesler during the game.
Said Henrik Sedin: “It shows what kind of guy he is. He is a great player. It’s too bad he is acting like he does, but that’s the way it is.”
2. Licking Leo Komarov (April 2018)
Did Marchand just lick Komarov?
He can’t taste good.
– Duffy on WCMF (@DuffyOnWCMF) April 13, 2018
Marchand took on-ice taunting to disgusting new levels during his rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Leo Komarov. Like so many relationships, it began with a kiss on the cheek, earlier in the 2017-18 season. By the first round of the playoffs, their bond had grown to the point where Marchand appeared to lick Komarov’s neck.
“I thought he wanted to cuddle. I just wanted to get close to him,” said Marchand, who wasn’t penalized on the play. “He keeps trying to get close to me. I don’t know if he’s got a thing for me or what. He’s cute.”
This incident sparked a wave of comedic internet memes, perhaps even more than when Alex Burrows ate Patrice Bergeron’s finger that one time. Speaking of the Canucks:
Me (Sedin) Vs. Mondays (Marchand) pic.twitter.com/P88LVbB86N
– ETD51 (@ETD51) April 3, 2018
The 2011 Stanley Cup Final was, for my money, the single most brutal championship series in recent NHL history. Perhaps no moment better captured the Bruins’ physical edge over the Canucks than in Game 6, when Marchand landed several punches to the face of Daniel Sedin before anyone intervened (in this case, the referee).
“No, he didn’t say anything before. He was just right there. … He didn’t say anything; he was just kind of taking it,” Marchand said of Sedin.
And why did Marchand keep punching him the face? “Because I felt like it.”