Brad Marchand: The Unlikely Star
Brad Marchand: The Unlikely Star
Marchand doesn’t see himself as a dirty player, however. What he concedes to is “crossing the line a little more than some other players.”
“But I also have a bigger microscope on me, or a lot more people watching me because of the way I play,” he fires back when being interviewed for this book. “So every time that I cross the line, it gets blown up a lot because I have a prior history. Again, it’s part of the game and it always will be. I don’t know if I’ll ever get it out of my game – I’m going to try – but it happens so quickly in hockey.”
The subtitle of Croucher’s biography of Brad Marchand clearly identifies the book’s focus. In terms of what National Hockey League teams are typically looking for in a forward, Marchand simply didn’t check enough boxes to realistically even make the roster of an NHL team let alone become one of the league’s marquee players. Firstly, there was his size. At just 5 ft, 9 ins (175 cm) and 181 lbs (82 kg), Marchand, in his first year with the Boston Bruins, was considerably smaller than the average NHL forward who was then 6 ft, 1in. (184 cm) tall and weighed 202 lbs (92 kg.). Then there was the fact that Marchand was selected in the third round of the NHL Entry Draft, #71 overall. To a hockey outsider, Marchand’s being chosen in the third round may not seem to be too bad, but statistics provided by Canada's “The Sports Network” (TSN) offer a different perspective. TSN examined draft picks from 2000 to 2009 and concluded that 80 percent of first-round picks become at least low-level NHL players while 44 percent of players selected in the second round make the NHL a career. Just 30 percent of third-round picks become NHL players. And instead of being a bottom six player, Marchand, who plays left wing, has consistently played on the top forward lines in a career that has already lasted over twice as long as the five year average career length for an NHL player.
What separates Brad Marchand: The Unlikely Star from other books about Marchand is that its author, Philip Croucher, a sports writer and the bureau chief for the StarMetro Halifax obviously had direct access not only to Brad but also his parents. Consequently, the text has a more intimate and personal feel to it. Croucher’s smoothly reading text appears in two-column format on glossy paper. Additional text that appears in greyish-blue boxes augments the main content by providing statistics, lists, comments by players and coaches and anecdotes tangential to the main storyline. Croucher treats his subject matter chronologically, and so readers get to follow Marchand through minor hockey into the junior ranks and finally into pro hockey, with the Bruins’ winning the Stanley Cup. Concluding chapters include one called “The Haters” and another , “O Canada”. The former addresses Marchand’s reputation as being a “dirty” player while the latter speaks to Marchand’s representing Canada in international tournaments, both as an amateur and as a professional.
While many sports biographies include player photos, usually most of the images are sourced commercially; however, in Brad Marchand: The Unlikely Star the majority of the photographs carry the credit “Marchand Family”.
Brad Marchand: The Unlikely Star, with its highly illustrated, quick read text, should appeal to all hockey afficionados, whether they are Marchand’s fans or among his “haters”.
Dave Jenkinson, CM’s editor, lives in Winnipeg, Manitoba.