Early on, he was hockey’s preeminent pest who earned his “Little Ball of Hate” moniker with injurious plays and trash talk that was just as perilous for opponents.
He’s still an elite agitator — no one in the NHL can make headlines with a pregame comment or an off-day tweet like Marchand can. But after 928 games, 370 goals and a run of team accomplishments with the Bruins, Marchand has taken his place among the best wingers of his generation both offensively and defensively. With Boston on a record pace for NHL regular-season success, he is looking to add a second Stanley Cup ring to his collection.
ESPN had a wide-ranging conversation with Marchand, 34, recently during a Bruins’ road trip as he promoted a partnership with Twisted Tea Frozen Cherry, which features limited edition black-and-gold jersey cans with an NHL logo.
“I was actually introduced to this back in 2012 or 2013 at the end of the season,” he said. “[Milan] Lucic had it at his condo after the season and it became an instant favorite. It wasn’t in a minifridge. It was in a large fridge. Large man; large fridge. I demolished a couple cases that day.”
We learned a lot about him on and off the ice. Enjoy!
Note: The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
ESPN: There was a rumor recently that the 2025 NHL All-Star Game would be held in Seattle, Edmonton or Detroit. On social media, you wondered how many players might boycott those cities.
I mean it’s true https://t.co/G2HzORnv4r
— Brad Marchand (@Bmarch63) February 21, 2023
The last two All-Star Games were in Las Vegas and South Florida and were well-attended by players. Should the NHL just keep that event in locations where players want to spend their breaks?
Marchand: Listen, I was just kind of playing around. Everyone gets a little sensitive on social media. It’s a huge problem in society, but we won’t get into that. Seattle actually has beautiful views. Edmonton has phenomenal hunting, so I love Edmonton. And then Detroit is … you know, suspect.
The All-Star Game is trending in the wrong direction. Guys want to be in spots that are enjoyable to be in. They want to be in nice cities or warm cities. It’s a long season. The game itself is a small portion of that weekend. You want to be able to enjoy it a bit. When everyone else is going on trips and enjoying themselves during the break, you don’t want to be stuck in Edmonton when it’s minus-30 or in Detroit. You want to be able to enjoy it.
It was a joke a little bit, but it’s true. If you want the big superstars to go every year and want to be part of it, then you should put in places where they actually want to be and are going to enjoy it. But that’s not for me to decide. I’ll probably be out of the league by then anyway. So I’m not really too worried about it.
ESPN: Your All-Star comments were made on social media. I’ve always been curious about your usage. Do you game plan when you’re dropping a bomb on Twitter? Or is it just like you’re on the flight and the phone’s there, so why not?
Marchand: No, it’s more just like you get bored at some point and it pops up. I try to actually not be on social media too much. I just think it’s hilarious how people get on there and they start going off, but then when you fire anything back, they just lose their minds. They’re just not used to it.
I also think it’s fun because, you know, pro athletes don’t really engage in situations like that. I think it’s good for the game. I think people enjoy it and it’s funny. It’s a different way to interact with fans. I just get a lot of comic relief out of it because people just go sideways when you go on there. It’s fun to see mayhem ensue.
ESPN: You’ve got a talent for it. If you’re good at it, go ahead and do it, right?
Marchand: I think it’s enjoyable. You gotta have some thick skin to go on there. But it’s a good way to kill 5-10 minutes when you’re on a flight or you have a long day in the hotel room or whatever. It’s nothing that takes too seriously or it’s more just for a good laugh every now and again.
ESPN: The Bruins have been incredible this season, challenging regular-season records. What is it about this team that’s clicked so well?
Marchand: The biggest thing for us is that we have a ton of depth guys that are really buying into the roles. For us, I think it’s always started off the ice. Something that our management and organization put a ton of effort in and emphasis on is to bring in guys who want to be a part of a winning culture. That want to compete, that want to work and want to get better and that are just good people. I think it starts there.
With [coach Jim] Montgomery coming in and giving a new refreshing look to the group, I think some of the younger guys kind of eased up a little bit and are feeling good about themselves. To have a deep team that can make a good run, that’s always what you need: Young guys that are able to thrive and do well. We have that this year, with guys that have really broken out of their shell. [Trent] Frederic is having a really good year and [Connor] Clifton has come into his own. So the depth we have has really pushed us to win a lot of games.
Then you have [Linus] Ullmark and [David] Pastrnak having the years they’re having. Then you have a guy like [David] Krejci coming back and filling the holes that we had. [GM Don] Sweeney made an absolutely incredible deal for [Hampus] Lindholm last season. Absolutely stole him from Anaheim and he turned out to be an absolute stud.
We just have that belief. We have guys that want to win and a lot of older guys on the team that want to have a good run. Everyone’s just excited.
ESPN: One of the things I’ve heard from you guys when I’ve covered you this season is that Montgomery brought in a level of accountability to the team, but also brought back a sense of joy to the Bruins.
Marchand: I mean, that’s also easy when you’re winning as much as we are. It’s always fun to know that every game you have a good opportunity. But it didn’t start that way. We came into camp and we weren’t really sure how it was going to play out and what kind of team we were going to be. But once we started winning, you get on a roll.
Confidence in this game is such a dangerous thing. It can be really detrimental if you don’t have confidence and if you do, it can just propel you. We got it early and it bled through the team.
You brought up that accountability piece. It started really early on. Jim keeps guys accountable every day. And it’s everybody. A lot of coaches will kind of harp on the third-, fourth-line guys but he is all over everyone to take care of their details. That’s good because when you get into playoffs, those are the things that matter and can win or lose a game.
ESPN: Let’s talk about overconfidence for a second. The last time we saw a team do what the Bruins are doing in the regular season, it was the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2019 and they were bounced in a first-round sweep to Columbus. One reason they gave: That they hadn’t played any meaningful games in a while, but the bottom seed had played [meaningful games] for about a month to get in. How do you avoid something like that happening?
Marchand: We’re aware of it obviously. [Nick] Foligno was part of that series and we did see it happen when it did. It’s been brought up. We don’t put a lot of time or effort into that conversation. We just want to try to focus on each day. We don’t really look at standings.
People have talked a lot about some of these records, that we could potentially hit or we have hit. Nobody cares about those in this room. We could care less about any of these regular-season records. Because they really don’t mean anything.
Before we were going through this season, if you asked any of the guys on this team who owned any of those records, nobody would know, because nobody cares. Because it’s not about the regular season. If you win the Presidents’ Trophy but you don’t win the Cup, nobody cares. That’s what we know on this team. As soon as somebody brings it up, it’s in one ear and out the other. We’re just focused completely on trying to get better.
We want to win every game. Being prepared to do that will make us prepared for the playoffs. But it’s also the time of year when teams are pushing for the playoffs and spots in the standings. Each game is valuable to them. It’s going to push us to play some really intense playoff games and we’re looking forward to that challenge.
Marchand: I think that was a good pickup for them. He’s a good player all the way around. Really good in tight. Good on the penalty kill, good on draws. I think he’s just another way to free up [Auston] Matthews against certain matchups and stuff like that.
We’ll see how it plays out. Obviously, you can’t predict the future and that’s kind of the situation everyone’s in right now. There’s a lot of really good contending teams. To try to pick guys out of a hat that are going to to push your team over the edge is tough. I would never want to be a GM. It’s a very tough job. But that was a good move for them.
ESPN: As a reporter, I’d very much love if you were a GM. You’d be like Brian Burke times 20 with the candor.
Marchand: [Laughs] I mean, it would be fun. But it would be stressful.
ESPN: Let’s talk about something less stressful. I’ve been curious about this with you: Do you have a most rewatchable movie?
Marchand: I probably have two. I’m still a big kid at heart. So every now and again, I’ll throw the [“Teenage Mutant] Ninja Turtles” on. Mostly in the background. The first and the second movies. I don’t watch many movies. I love those. But if I’m going to sit down, if I really want to watch a movie, I’ll watch “The Patriot.” That’s probably my favorite movie of all time. I could watch that at any point. So I’ll throw it that on every now and again too.
ESPN: Is your kid around for the Ninja Turtle movies?
Marchand: I will throw it on when I’m on the road by myself, yeah.
ESPN: And do you prefer the O.G. movie or “The Secret of the Ooze?”
Marchand: You know what, I go back and forth. Sometimes it just depends how I feel. I really like ‘”The Secret of the Ooze,” but I mean, you can’t beat the original, either. So, uh, I’ll do both. I usually go back to back.
ESPN: Do you have a favorite Ninja Turtle? Because I have one in my head for you.
Marchand: Yeah, it’s Leonardo, by far.
ESPN: What?! You’re not a Michelangelo guy?
Marchand: No, I know. I thought you were going to say that. But Leo’s always been my guy. I like the swords. That’s why Leo always got my vote. If you put the swords in Mikey’s hands, it’d be Mikey.