BOSTON -- The seconds tick down in the second game of the World Cup of Hockey 2016 final between heavy favorite Team Canada and out-of-nowhere Team Europe. The score is 1-1 and seems headed for an overtime that no one had anticipated. 

Drew Doughty is in the penalty box, leaving Team Canada shorthanded. 

Jonathan Toews skates down the right side of the ice, carrying the puck, with Jay Bouwmeester trailing. As he crosses the blue line, another player jumps over the boards. Toews and Bouwmeester cross paths as they reach the top of the circle and the trailing player joins them in the offensive zone, just in time for Toews’s little tap of a backhand pass.

Brad Marchand is ready, a stride down the slot and a flick of the stick and a short-handed goal and pandemonium. 

With 43.1 seconds remaining in regulation, Marchand is jumping into the arms of defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, his goal having won the tournament for Canada and sent the packed crowd in Toronto at what was then Air Canada Centre into hysterics. 

It was the moment, and the tournament, that sent him into the stratosphere. 

“Once I got to the World Cup, it was a huge awakening for me that a big part of the reason the best players are the best players -- yes, it’s their skill -- but it’s their mindset,” Marchand said in a lengthy sit-down with “They know that they’re the best. They go out there every night and they know that they’re going to control the game. They just hold onto pucks in areas where other guys won’t and don’t.

“After I played alongside them, I knew that I could be at that level. It was just a mindset change for me. After that I’d go on the ice and I would literally feel -- and I would tell the other team’s coach and the players -- that you can’t control me, you can’t beat me. I just got into such a mindset that I believed it every day, every day in practice, every day in games, and it just propelled me to another level.”

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Marchand is 998 games into his NHL career, with No. 999 set for Saturday at TD Garden against the Washington Capitals (3:30 p.m. ET; ABC, ESPN+, SN) and No. 1,000 on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. He has 910 points (397 goals, 513 assists), fifth all-time among Boston Bruins players, and shows no signs of slowing.

“Even now, I’m proud of it and I’m happy about it, but I still feel like I have so much more,” he said of reaching 1,000 games. “There’s bigger accolades than that now.”

He has won a World Cup and a Stanley Cup and gold at the World Juniors, twice. He has made the NHL All-Star Game and finished top five in voting for the Hart Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player twice. He has fought and clawed and changed the conversation, turning himself from a rat into a captain and from a pest into a potential Hall of Famer.


Marchand never expected Canada to come calling. Two years earlier, when Steve Yzerman telephoned to invite him to Canada’s orientation camp in the summer of 2013, ahead of the 2014 Sochi Olympics, the forward was stunned into silence.

That wasn’t the type of player he was. He wasn’t Patrice Bergeron. He wasn’t Sidney Crosby or Patrick Marleau or Jeff Carter.

“He’s had to fight for everything his whole life,” former linemate Shawn Thornton said. “I think the way he played back then, always on the edge, probably overshadowed how good he was. I think the antics probably took away from a little bit of the skill level. But when you saw him in practice, when you saw him day to day, you knew he was going to be a pretty special player.”

Now, with playing for Canada as an additional carrot, he was motivated. He could see the possibilities. He had a chance.

He wasn’t going to squander it.

And when 2016 came, he did far more than just make the team, playing with Crosby and Bergeron on Team Canada’s top line, the trio combining for 12 goals and Marchand pacing them with five of his own, including that game-winner in the final.

“Playing with him at the World Cup, his game, he just elevated to another level,” said Crosby, who skates with Marchand in the offseason in Nova Scotia. “Both sides of the puck. He’s clutch. He’s hard to knock off the puck. He makes great plays. … I’ve seen that year after year, but definitely in that event. He found another level.”

Marchand had always viewed the NHL as having three tiers, starting with the top end guys, like Crosby and Bergeron, and now Connor McDavid of the Edmonton Oilers. Then there was the mid-tier, where Marchand placed himself, and the bottom tier, with players who were in-and-out of the lineup, in-and-out of the League.

Now? That top tier was in reach.

“I think Brad opened a lot of people’s eyes when he went to the World Cup in 2016,” said Claude Julien, an assistant coach on Team Canada at the World Cup and Marchand’s coach for his first eight years in the NHL. “I think he earned the respect of all those players once they got to know him, once they saw him competing on their side. So I think there’s a big amount of respect for Brad around the League, believe it or not.”

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He had been known for so long as an agitator, a player who needed an edge to make him good, a player opponents loved to hate and opposing fans loved to hate even more. He had piled up the suspensions, sometimes obscuring the talent that was so obvious once the rest of it was stripped away.

After the World Cup, after those eyes had been opened, the talent shined. When Marchand returned to the Bruins, he felt like suddenly the game was set to easy mode. 

“When you do start establishing some confidence like that, it snowballs and it’s that trickle effect where it just grows and grows and grows,” Bergeron said. “You feel almost like you can’t be stopped.”

Marchand felt, he said, untouchable. 

“I felt at times like I could literally just do what I wanted out there,” Marchand said. “And it was a weird feeling. And again, I wasn’t doing that. But there were a lot of nights where I felt like I was always on my game, I was always on the top, I was always very confident. 

“We all go through ebbs and flows of the season, but I just felt like every night I was confident that I was going to have success and I was going to help the team.”

Especially when he was playing with Bergeron and David Pastrnak, who blew up that season into a 34-goal scorer. Marchand finished 2016-17 with a career-high 85 points (39 goals, 46 assists) and would go on to score 85 points (34 goals, 51 assists) in 2017-18 and 100 (36 goals, 64 assists) in 2018-19 and 87 (28 goals, 59 assists) in 2019-20. 

“We just had such a great connection and chemistry,” Marchand said. “It was not, are we going to score tonight? It was like, how many are we going to score tonight?

“So much of it is a mindset. It’s a little bit of an arrogance out there, but it’s a confidence arrogance. I think you almost need that sometimes. You see the top guys when they’re on the ice, they have that. It’s a mind game. When you look across at a guy and you think, I’ve already beaten him, then you have the edge.”


It’s not quite like that anymore. After 14 seasons together, Bergeron retired after last season at age 38, leaving his longtime linemate and longtime friend as the only remaining member of the 2011 Stanley Cup-winning Bruins -- “I never expected that,” Marchand said -- handing over the captaincy and the expectations. 

“[It was] a rude awakening when ‘Bergy’ left,” he said. “The way I could read off of him and how I was able to cheat a little bit more because of the way he could put out fires or he would send pucks to areas where I knew he would put them.”

He never truly thought he would outlast Bergeron. Not really. 

“That was me being naïve,” Marchand said. “He played 20 years in the NHL. That was maybe my hope and dream, that we would go out together.”

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He felt the pressure, the inheritance from Bergeron and, before him, Zdeno Chara, of being the Bruins captain, of leading, of finding a path that fit him.

That has eased as the season has gone on, as the Bruins have earned perhaps unexpected success, as Marchand has found his stride. After winning the Presidents’ Trophy in historic fashion last season, setting NHL records for wins (65) and points (135), the Bruins (32-10-9) are first place in the Eastern Conference and Atlantic Division.

And Marchand, who will turn 36 on May 11, during the Stanley Cup Playoffs he hopes might bring him a chance at winning a second championship, has no intention of leaving the game any time soon. He is signed through 2024-25 as part of the eight-year, $49 million contract he inked during the World Cup, on Sept. 26, 2016.

“I’ve thought about this a lot,” he said. “After Bergy retired, I thought about it quite a bit. For me, I love the game so much. I don’t know what I would do without it. I feel really good about my game still. Last year was a down year for me because of my hip surgery. I feel like this year I’ve been better. I feel like next year I’ll be better having another year to train and get stronger. I still feel a little weakness in my hips that I can still improve upon.

“I would like to play until at least 40. Another five years is kind of what I’m targeting. And then after that it’ll depend on how my body’s holding up, if I can handle the load day to day.”

He knows that it gets harder as a player gets older, as the aches mount and the surgeries increase and his kids need more attention. He knows that 35 can be a cliff for hockey players, one that he has already reached.

“It’s proven that you slow down as you get older,” he said. “But what I believe happens is guys’ work ethics drop off. There are not many guys in the League that are 35 that don’t have multiple kids, that have different priorities. They have already played 10, 12, 15 years and they are financially set for life. They have activities for the kids all the time. They’re not training the same. They’re not skating the same. They’re not dedicating the same time and effort as they did when they were younger. I don’t have that mindset. My mindset is the opposite.”

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Marchand said his family, including wife, Katrina, and his three kids, know that extending his career will only take more time and more effort, more everything, than it did when he was younger. He said they are in complete support.

The only thing that can hold him back is him. He won’t do that to himself.

He knows how many people would give anything for a chance at the NHL. Why would he throw away a year or two or three?

“I don’t ever want to do a disservice to my younger self,” Marchand said. “This has been my lifelong dream. To walk away from it earlier, a year or two than maybe I should be, it would be tough to do. I want to play it through. I feel like I’ve given everything I can to the game. I’m going to do everything I can to continue to be at the top of my game and make sure that I can play for a long time.”


There has always been that roller-coaster aspect to Marchand’s career, a push-and-pull that isn’t always present for others, who may have had more of a linear progression. Marchand, undersized (5-foot-9) and underestimated, was selected in the third round (No. 71) of the 2006 NHL Draft by the Bruins and will become the 11th member of that draft class to reach 1,000 games.

“He’s turned into arguably one of the best left wingers of his generation,” Bergeron said. “It’s been a privilege for me to share the ice with him for the biggest portion of the 1,000 games that he’s played. It’s been a treat to watch him.”

Fifteen years into his career, Marchand is fourth in points among players from the 2006 NHL Draft -- behind Claude Giroux (1,044), Nicklas Backstrom (1,033) and Phil Kessel (992) -- and could easily end up first.

“His career is amazing, really,” Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “He’s not the guy that went first overall that you thought was destined for greatness. I think that’s part of the reason why his story is so incredible. Because he worked for everything that he got.

“And what he is now is a product of that work and sort of finding what he can do and never being satisfied with how good he was at it. He’s still the hardest worker that I think I’ve ever played with and what he’s been able to do, the more you look at it, he looks like a Hall of Famer. I believe he’s a Hall of Fame hockey player. And that in itself is amazing, and he’s not done yet.”

For now, once he hits 1,000 games, there is another milestone ahead. With 910 points and 31 games remaining this season, he could reach 1,000 next season. On Dec. 7, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, he recorded the 1,000th penalty minute of his career; he now has 1,026.

“That’s my goal: 1,000 points, 1,000 games, 1,000 PIMS,” Marchand said. “I’ve got 1,000 PIMs now.”

It’s suggested that there might be a name for that, akin to a Gordie Howe hat trick. It’s something that’s been completed by only 35 players in NHL history, including Howe, Ray Bourque, Stan Mikita, Bobby Clarke, Jean Beliveau, Dave Taylor, Evgeni Malkin and Denis Potvin.

Perhaps the Marchand triple?

He laughs.

“If that’s not me,” he said. “I don’t know what is. To a T.” independent correspondents Wes Crosby and Paul delos Santos contributed to this report.