Tip to Blackhawks fans awaiting the start of the Stanley Cup Final:
It’s never too early to start hating Brad Marchand.
If you wait, however, don’t worry. You won’t fall behind the class much because it will take about one shift for you to find the most hated man on the Boston roster.
In our Hawk-centrist world, think of it this way: What Dave Bolland does to a couple Sedins, Marchand does to 29 other teams.
Sometimes Marchand will be a hangnail’s worth of irritation. Sometimes he’ll be a migraine. On average, though, he’s a kick to the crotch.
It’s kind of sick, the Marchand package. He’s 5-foot-9 and 183 pounds, perfect for being a little ball of hate, as he was described most notably by President Obama during the Bruins’ visit to the White House after winning the Cup in 2011.
But Marchand also can score.
He’s close to Andrew Shaw’s size, but is just five short of Patrick Kane’s goal total the last three seasons. It doesn’t get much more aggravating than that.
Marchand is coming off an Eastern Conference final in which he outscored Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, but then, any Bruin who scored did that. Still, Marchand matched the entire Penguins roster in goals while making most of them screaming mad.
In the regular season, he ranked among the top 10 in plus-minus, short-handed goals and-game-winning goals. That’s Jonathan Toews territory. That’s some company for a shift disturber.
Worse, he’s always on the ice because he doesn’t pick up nearly as many penalties as his aggravating ways would lead you to believe.
Marchand is frustrating and dangerous. He plays like a Canuck but without the standard lobotomy administered to Vancouver players.
Discipline, then, will be paramount for a Hawks team that has had some issues this postseason. Toews lost his composure in that second period against Detroit, then Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith lost theirs against the Kings.
That’s the captain and both alternate captains. That’s a bad example.
The good news is, those are exceptions. They have to remain that way given the ice time and leadership of the players we’re talking about.
But of course, the demand for poise goes for every Hawk.
The fans, though, can start losing it now.