By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand is one of the best hockey players in the world. Marchand also skates on a line with two of the best players in the world, and plays in a league featuring the best players in the world.
But if and when the 2019-20 National Hockey League season fires back up once the world gets a hold on the COVID-19 pandemic, Marchand knows that they're all going to be struggling. Badly, too.
“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," Marchand, who spoke with season-ticket holders in a chat hosted by the Bruins, admitted. "That’s probably the biggest concern with this whole thing anyways: If you take guys who have been off who have had very limited opportunity to work out, train, and haven’t skated in months, you can’t just throw them back into games. Everyone’s going to get hurt."
The league appears to be cognizant of this, and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has maintained the belief that the NHL will need to get back to work with regular-season games before jumping right to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Part of that comes back to Bettman's desire to have a crowded bubble unclog itself with true playoff caliber teams, but the conditioning aspect is certainly important to the league. It's important for Marchand and the B's, too, in pursuit of Stanley Cup redemption.
"We’ll need some kind of ramp-up period," Marchand said. "And it’s going to be really, really ugly for the first few games, [but] it’d be nice to get a couple of games in before playoffs or it would really be a free-for-all.”
Marchand also noted that he believes some of the younger, skill teams (such as the Maple Leafs and Lightning) would be at an advantage upon a potential restart of the season, saying that they'd be able to get their legs back quicker than most.
Let's say the timeline never presents itself and the league isn't able to get back to work with a true champion, would it make sense for the Bruins to be awarded the Stanley Cup as the league's best team through 70 games of the regular season?
“I don’t think if I could answer that, but it would be hard to turn that trophy down in any situation," said Marchand. "At the same time, you want to earn it. I don’t know what I’d do in that situation."
Marchand has some time to think about it, though, as it's believed that the league, which extended its self-quarantine throug the end of April, won't make a decision on the fate of their season until late May at the earliest.