Brad Marchand strutted down the catwalk with the same confidence and coolness he flashes when steaming down the right wing, picking a corner on the goalie, or barreling into an opponent along the boards.
The Bruins veteran smiled and spiraled across the runway at the club’s Centennial Takeoff fashion show at the JetBlue hangar Saturday night, working the crowd much the way he works over adversaries on a nightly basis during the NHL season.
As he so often is, Marchand was the pacesetter.
“I was just watching Marchy in the back do all these different poses, so I just tried to take a couple from him,” said fellow model Brandon Carlo, one of three Bruins, along with Milan Lucic, who showed off the club’s three special jerseys for the upcoming centennial season.
With the Bruins set to open training camp Wednesday morning, all eyes again will be trained on Marchand, one of the leading candidates to succeed Patrice Bergeron as the franchise’s captain.
Coach Jim Montgomery, general manager Don Sweeney, and president Cam Neely have been discussing a succession plan, and Neely said he hopes to have an announcement soon.
Neely, who served as an alternate captain from 1988-96 during Ray Bourque’s 15-year run with the “C,” described the blueprint for what the club is looking for in its new leader.
“First and foremost, you want someone that comes to play hard and work hard every day,” said Neely. “I think we’ve seen that through captains from Ray to [Zdeno] Chara, to Bergy, where they’re the hardest-working guys on the ice, and there’s no better way to lead than by showing. So, that’s probably the priority.”
Montgomery said the perfect candidate needs to have a strong voice and a sympathetic ear. Part principal and part guidance counselor. A good cop and a bad cop all rolled into one.
“Someone that is confident in who they are,” said the coach. “Someone that isn’t afraid to put his arm around a teammate and also hold a teammate accountable. And also, not afraid to come into my office and hold me accountable to what he believes if I’m doing the right things toward the team.
“I think he’s the go-between the players and the coaches, and he’s got to be comfortable communicating with everybody and [the media], being able to be there every day too, for you guys to have a source that has the pulse of the team and who’s the leader of our team.”
Montgomery is confident there is a strong pool of candidates in the room. Guys that have watched and learned from not only Chara and Bergeron but other stout leaders, including David Krejci and Nick Foligno. In addition to Marchand, David Pastrnak, Charlie McAvoy, and Carlo, all of whom served as alternate captains last season, fall into that category.
“Everyone’s watched those players, especially Bergy, for years, and there’s a lot of players that have worn a spoked B for a long time and care about culture and how we compete and how we carry ourselves,” said Montgomery.
The ability to meld the qualities of leaders past and present while also putting your own stamp on the job will be critical to the next captain’s success.
Carlo has always appreciated the group-effort mentality when it comes to leadership in the Bruins family.
“I think we have plenty of guys within our room who can read well off of each other and support each other in times when we need and also give each other a push,” said Carlo. “So, it’ll be important to work together in that regard. But we definitely have some guys with great qualities with all of that.”
Jake DeBrusk, who played on the top line with Marchand last season and affectionately referred to him as “a little ball of hate” last week, believes Marchand would make a seamless transition to captain.
“He’s one of those guys that outworks people and he’s got the skill to match, and obviously his off-ice [dedication] is the same way and I think he leads in that category of intensity the same way Z and Bergy did,” DeBrusk said.
Marchand acknowledged that it would be an honor to follow in the strides of his longtime teammates while also making it clear that he is comfortable in his own skates, no matter who wears the C.
“Yeah, it’d be cool, but it’s not something I’m really focused on,” Marchand said. “I don’t need to wear a letter to be a leader. I know my place in this team, and I know what I do and where my value is, and that’s kind of the way it’s always been in our room.
“Bergy was a cocaptain with Z a long time before he wore the C. And respect is earned; it’s not given just because you have a letter on your jersey, and that’s something that I think you’re taught pretty early on here. You’ve got to earn everything you’re given.
“And so regardless of how that all plays out, I know what I need to do and where I need to help in the room and leadershipwise, and that won’t change.”