By Philip Croucher - Metro Halifax
HALIFAX - Brad Marchand says he never thought representing his country at the Olympics was even a possibility.
Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara (33) is congratulated by teammate Brad Marchand after his goal against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal NHL Stanley Cup hockey playoffs series in Boston, Wednesday, May 4, 2011. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
That is until earlier this week. The Hammonds Plains native’s name was among 47 invitees to Hockey Canada’s orientation camp from Aug. 25 to 28 in Calgary ahead of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.
“Growing up, and once I got into the NHL, I thought I’d never get the opportunity to be part of an Olympic camp or even a look for it,” said the Boston Bruins’ forward on Tuesday in Halifax during a fundraiser for Phoenix House. “But I’m very excited and I’m very nervous."
But that’s not to say the 25-year-old doesn’t have a worthy skill set to offer. Beyond his uncanny ability to rile his opponents, Marchand’s a speedy, crafty player possessing a formidable two-way game.
“I’ll use my work ethic and energy to my advantage and I think I can put the puck in the net as well. I have something different to offer,” said Marchand, who helped lead the Bruins to the Stanley Cup final with 13 points last season.
“I don’t if I can say I deserve a shot on Team Canada, but I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity and I’m not saying that it’s going to happen but the best thing I can do is go make it happen.”
Ottawa Senators head coach Paul MacLean isn’t surprised by Hockey Canada’s interest in Marchand. Although the five-foot-nine, 183 pounder doesn’t fit the mould of a stereotypical NHL superstar, MacLean says he’s a rare commodity.
“He’s had a phenomenal career in the National Hockey League, he really has,” said MacLean. “The Olympic Team isn’t like the all-star team. You aren’t necessarily picking the best players. You need people who bring a different element to the game and you see that with Brad Marchand.
“I know (Team Canada Coach) Mike Babcock well enough to know if you’re playing well enough at the time, you’re playing on the team.”
Heading into next season the 2011 Stanley Cup champion is only worrying about the parts of the game he can control.
“I want to have a very strong start to the season, try to improve every day, that’s all you can do as a player.”