Marchand says first few games upon return will be ‘really, really ugly’

Watch Brad Marchand light the lamp and pick up assists while picking fights during the 2019-20 season...so far.

One of the more common questions being asked of NHLers across all the recent Zoom conference calls in the league is how they’re keeping in shape. Some are lucky enough to be set up with a home gym, while others with less space have had to get a bit more creative.

Connor McDavid and Gary Roberts have combined to release two recent workouts showing how to stay fit while in quarantine.

It’s the job of the NHLer right now to just be ready so that if the league is cleared to play again, they’re fit enough to start back up for playoff season.

But speaking on his own conference call on Thursday, Boston’s Brad Marchand said just being off the ice for so long would lead to side effects on its own.

“The toughest thing is, it doesn’t matter what you do off the ice, you can run, you can bike, but nothing will really simulate the workout you get on the ice. You can’t duplicate it, you can’t replicate it,” he said.

“It doesn’t matter who does what in this break we’re all going to feel awful coming back. We’re all going to be bad. It’s going to take a while to get it back. That’s probably the biggest concern. If you take guys that have been off that have had limited opportunity to work out and haven’t skated in months, you can’t just throw them back into games.

“Everybody’s going to get hurt. There’s gotta be some kind of ramp up period. It’s going to be really, really ugly for the first few games so it’d be nice to get a couple games before playoffs start, otherwise it’s really a free for all.”

A day after Drew Doughty said winning it all this year was “not going to be like winning a real Stanley Cup” because the regular season didn’t finish, Marchand’s take from the top of the standings was contrasting. The Bruins were the league’s best team at the pause, with Tuukka Rask, David Pastrnak, Bruce Cassidy and possibly even Marchand himself in the running for individual awards.

Boston lost in the Stanley Cup Final last year and Marchand said it’d be disappointing if they never found out what this year’s team could have accomplished.

When Gary Bettman spoke this week on the possibility of returning to play this season, he remained optimistic and, to Marchand’s point, acknowledged the players would need two-to-three weeks to get back up to speed on the ice.

Still, Marchand believes that returning from a months-long disruption will help some teams more than others — and not just those whose injured star players will be ready to play again.

“It’s not going to help any team that was playing well at that time,” Marchand said. “When you take a month or two months or three months, whatever it’s going to be, it’s gonna hurt everyone.

“I honestly think the teams that are gonna come back and look good are the really young teams teams like Toronto, Tampa, just really high-end skill teams. Because they’re just going to have the legs. Older teams are really going to struggle.”

And then there’s the idea of playing without fans. Sure, Marchand will continue to be the same pest of a player to his opponents, but if he can’t have that interaction with people watching the game, something will be missing.

Right at a time when the games would be at their most important, Marchand says a key part of that whole environment will be noticeably absent.

“It would be like a practice really. That’s kinda the way it’d feel,” he said. “One of the most exciting things about the game is having the fans there for support and the energy and the momentum swings they can create.

“But if that’s what it takes for us to get back on the ice and play, we just want to get on the ice and play. Hopefully they can find a way to make that happen. If it’s without fans, it’s without fans. We just want a shot to get that Cup.”

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