In 1995, Pat Verbeek was dubbed the "little ball of hate" after NYR teammate Ray Ferraro was deemed to be the "big ball of hate."
Now in 2013, Brad Marchand, who has also been awarded the moniker by US President Barack Obama, is making a case to be the best and most decorated "ball of hate" of all.
Marchand grew up around the Halifax,NS area where he played his Midget hockey with the Dartmouth AAA Subways.
In the 2003-2004 season his 79 points in 49 games with the team was enough to make him a 2nd round pick in the 2004 QMJHL draft of the Moncton Wildcats.
He would split his junior career amongst 4 teams, with his best season coming while a member of the Val D'or Foreurs, where he had 80 regular season points then racked up another 40 in just 20 playoff games.
He was selected 71st overall by the Boston Bruins in the 2006 NHL Draft and made them look good for the pick as he would finish up his junior career with two productive seasons.
His strong play was also recognized on an international stage as he was a big part of Team Canada's Gold medals at the the 2007 and 2008 World Junior Championships.
He would then spend a season and a half with Providence in the AHL before finishing up the 2010 year with Boston.
In 2011, Brad Marchand arrived in the NHL on a full time basis.
His would compliment his 41 point regular season with 19 points in 25 playoff games as the Bruins captured the 2011 Stanley Cup, and along the way would earn the rep as a "little ball of hate."
What stands out most to me during the playoff run was Marchand's relentless assault on the Sedin twins during the Stanley Cup Finals. He would walk a fine line as pushed the rules of the game to their limits and beyond. He got the desired results, however, as the high scoring Swedes were mostly ineffective in the finals.
His role of agitator is one he relishes, and his mother Lynn says it is a know when to hold em, know when to fold em type of mentality he must maintain to be effective-
"I think the further it goes on (in the playoffs), the more it comes out in him because it helps him elevate his game.
But the key, of course, is not crossing the line too far. He's been able to do that so far- keep it pretty mild and not getting himself in situations that are costing the team."
While being the super pest, it cannot be forgotten how high his skill level is. Marchand is one of the most creative players on the Bruins, and while opponents love to hate him, they must also respect his skill set.
Coach Claude Julien knows that Marchand's emotions can get the best of him during the game, but says he has done a much better job of reeling it in when he may be hurting the team.
His win at all costs attitude also earned him another nickname from Bruins teammates as the "Nose Face Killah," a parody of the famous rapper and Marchand's toucan like beak.
His desire to win and be a key part of team success will never be in question as he lays it on the line every night, while pushing the boundries of the game and the buttons of the opposition.
Whether you like Brad Marchand or not, I would think every NHL team would love to have a little ball of hate of their own because the stats and the results are the proof in the pudding for # 63.
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