Marchand reinvents himself

PAUL FRIESEN -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:10 AM ET

PARDUBICE, Czech Republic -- You'll find the photo near the beginning of Team Canada's media guide for this year's World Junior Championship. On Page 10, to be exact.

You'll also find it in Brad Marchand's room. A reminder of a time he's left behind, but doesn't want to forget.

It's a shot of the Canadian team that walloped the Russians in last summer's eight-game Super Series.

Right in the middle of all those red-and-white jerseys, standing out like a sore thumb, is an 18-year-old wearing a suit and tie.

He's smiling and holding his finger up, like the rest of them, but Marchand didn't feel like a winner at the time.

Quite the opposite.

Benched for the last two games of that series, he was a kid with an attitude problem. A me-first kid who took stupid penalties at the worst times and who'd been late for a team meeting the day of the last game.

If you know anything about Brent Sutter, head coach of that team, you know how far back in the Team Canada doghouse Marchand was at that point.

Yesterday, the dog had his day.

And after getting the game-winning goal in a 4-2 victory over Finland, Marchand took the muzzle off, fighting back his emotions as he talked about how far he's come.

"I wasn't the person I had to be off the ice, mentally, to be a great player on the ice," he began. "I was a little hotheaded. I was mentally weak. I was able to learn that, and fix it. If I hadn't went through that I wouldn't be the player I am right now."

Stefan Legein, John Tavares and Steve Stamkos each contributed a goal for Canada.

Defenceman Drew Doughty assisted on Canada's second and third goals.

Canada's goaltender Steve Mason let in two soft goals, but made 21 saves on 23 shots for the win. Finland's Harri Sateri made 28 saves.

Marchand says a conversation with Sutter the last day of the Super Series is what first opened his eyes.

Marchand went to training camp in the fall with the Boston Bruins, and received a similar message to the one he got from Sutter: shape up, or forget about becoming a pro.

A member of last year's world junior team, under Craig Hartsburg -- and a trouble-free one, at that -- Marchand's chances of going after another gold medal were slim. Even though Sutter wouldn't be the coach here, reputations stick like CD labels.

This season, with Val d'Or of the Quebec Major Junior League, Marchand took on the job of reinventing himself, with an eye on getting into another Team Canada photo.

"The first half of the year I didn't even think I'd be here," he said. "I was a little worried about that. And I tried to work my butt off so that I would be. I wanted to be a lot better leader. By doing that it really changed everything that needed to change.

"I'm not taking stupid penalties and 10-minute misconducts. I'm able to be out there at important times of the game."

None more important than the third period of yesterday's sudden-death quarter final, Canada reeling from a banked-in goal that drew the Finns even, at 2-2.

Already the most dynamic player on the ice, Marchand scored the goal that took the weight of these worlds off his team, preventing what would have been a devastating early exit.

The way he reacted -- jumping so high you thought he might bump his head on the score clock -- said it all.

Actually, one of his first post-game comments might have said even more.

"It wasn't me," Marchand said. "It was a team effort."

Mobbed by his teammates, the native of Hammonds Plains, N.S., not far from Halifax, had found redemption, and not just from the bad break that cost his team a goal in an earlier loss to Sweden.

"It's nice to see him come back after the Sweden game, where he felt the world on his shoulders," Hartsburg said. "He plays the game with his heart. That's good. At times we have to make sure he plays on the right page."

Which brings us back to Page 10 of that media guide. The picture he keeps in his room.

"It's a reminder of the player, the person, I don't want to be," Marchand said. "Every time I look at it, I remember. I can move on from it."


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