Beyond The Benches

Why It’s Okay To Call Brad Marchand A Dirty Rat

Go ahead and call him a rat; Brad Marchand probably won’t mind. The 25-year-old Bruins winger might not be the tallest skater on the ice at five-foot-nine, but the contribution he makes to his team is definitely not undersized. To be clear, a “rat” is a player who contributes statistically but whose value is amplified by his ability to draw penalties and agitate the opposition through his physical play and, even more so, his big mouth (one liners or “chirps”).  Marchand is the latest incarnation of the ever-present “pest” that teammates love and the opposition loves to hate and follows a long line of “rats” who’ve preceded him in the NHL.

To give you a point of reference, here’s a list of some retired “rats” including their career point totals and games played:

Dale Hunter, 1020 points in 1407 games

Pat Verbeek, 1063 points in 1424 games

Esa Tikkanen, 630 points in 877 games

Claude Lemieux, 786 points in 1215 games

Theo Fleury, 1088 points in 1084 games

Darcy Tucker, 476 points in 947 games

Ken ‘the rat’ Linesman, 807 points in 860 games

More recent retirees, Matthew Barnaby and Sean Avery attempted to fill this role for their clubs with some success. The NHL’s other notable pest right now would be Alex Burrows of the Vancouver Canucks; Bruins fans will remember that Burrows was out- agitated by Marchand in the 2011 Stanley Cup finals.

If you take a good look at the list of agitators above, you’ll find Stanley cup winners and players who were integral to the success of their hockey teams. You will not find, however, players who were particularly well liked by the opposition or on anyone’s list of Lady Byng candidates. Brad Marchand seems to be heading into this exclusive, ill-tempered and successful group of NHLers as he carves out (or gnaws out to keep with the metaphor) his legacy with the Boston Bruins.

Marchand has 173 points in 282 NHL games with a plus 99 rating. He has been a perennial 20 goal scorer with the exception of his 18 goals in 45 games last year. He currently leads the Boston Bruins with 21 goals and is a key player on a club aiming for their third Stanley cup final in four years.  Marchand is an infuriating player to play against, and that’s the point. He’s not in the NHL to make friends, and NBC probably shouldn’t consider setting him up with a microphone any time soon but HBO could on the other hand. Brad Marchand is a rat, but there’s nothing wrong with that, especially since he’s a rat with a Stanley Cup ring and a lot of years ahead of him to earn a couple more.

Let’s face it: Every NHL team could use a rat like Brad Marchand.

Staff writer: Emile Ferlisi is a Special Education Resource Teacher who is just as passionate about student success as he is about hockey (well, almost). Emile lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, with his wife, Cara and their dog, Smokey. He can be reached on twitter @lippyferlise