WILMINGTON — During the Stanley Cup Final, a silly rumor emerged, one that made little sense given the Bruins' salary cap situation and the players involved. Still, general manager Peter Chiarelli felt the need to shoot it down, declaring that he was not planning to trade Brad Marchand for Patrick Marleau or anyone else.
Marchand, who has a modified no-trade clause, never really worried about being dealt. But he had opened himself up to the possibility, after a season in which he failed to produce consistently. He started slowly, got up to speed, and then lost himself again in the postseason.
"I never thought for a second that I was going to get traded, no matter what rumors go around," Marchand said after an informal practice at Ristuccia Arena Tuesday. "A bad start — I still had 25 goals, so it's not that bad of a year.
"I want to be here. I don't want to go anywhere. I'm not relying on a limited no-trade clause just to stick around. I want to show with my play and my actions that I want to be part of this team for a long time."
With that in mind, Marchand decided he needed to make some changes this summer. His conditioning hadn't been good enough when he showed up for training camp last season — after only five weeks of work in the summer — so he redoubled his efforts.
He hopes it will produce changes.
"I felt like my conditioning had to be up a bit," Marchand said. "I thought that was where I kind of struggled last year. So I tried to focus a little more on that and more mental aspects of the game.
"When you don't have the same conditioning, then it's tough to keep up with the play. You might have a burst of speed early on in a shift, but it dies off quick, so I tried to focus on more longer endurance. Hopefully that will help."
Although Marchand finished the season with 25 goals in 82 games, adding 28 assists for 53 points, the totals seemed disappointing both in light of what he has done and what he can do. And his start didn't help. After scoring a goal in the second game of the season, it took him 13 more to score his second goal — after which he mimed getting a monkey off his back.
Nor did his finish help.
Marchand didn't score a goal in the postseason, and managed only five assists in 12 games. He has not scored in the team's last 20 postseason games.
"You look at last year, I think I had like three goals in 35 games or something like that," Marchand said of his start, which was actually three goals over his first 25 games. "There's definitely a lot of room for improvement, but every year there's ups and downs and I know that.
"I've been through it for a few years now. You go through hot and cold streaks and the biggest thing is just trying to stay even keel and hopefully I can have a little better pace at the start of the year."
The conditioning wasn't something that the team had addressed with him in his exit meeting, but Marchand said he brought it up because "I felt that's where things kind of went wrong last year."
He's not sure that was the reason for the slow start, or the inconsistency, but he knew that improving his aerobic training certainly couldn't hurt him coming into this season.
So he went for it.
It started around Christmas, when he spent more time on the bike, more time trying to improve performance, which he thought helped in his second half. But not as much as a full summer of training will for this upcoming year, he believes.
There is one thing that could put a crimp in his plans, however: the status of Reilly Smith. Marchand can relate to what his linemate is going through, having shown up for training camp in September of 2011 without a contract. So far, Smith has yet to do that. (Neither has Torey Krug, the other entry-level free agent who remains without a deal.)
"It's tough," Marchand said. "They want to be here and we'd love to have them here, but obviously I don't know what's happening with negotiations, but it is a frustrating time, I think, for both sides.
"You want to be with the guys and skating and have all that stuff behind you because at the end of the day you love the game and you don't want to be missing out on this stuff. Hopefully it'll get done soon. I'm sure it will."
As for whether it would hurt his line — Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Smith — to be without their ring wing for camp, Marchand said, "It's always good to have as much time in training camp to play with your line [as possible], but you know that's not something I can control. Me and Bergy will just go have fun by ourselves, I guess."