I’ll be the first to admit I was never a Brad Marchand fan.
Maybe I didn’t like his style of hockey, maybe he reminded me of someone I knew, maybe I held him to the “Sidney Standard” which to be honest, I can’t reach myself…but, whatever the reason…I just wasn’t a fan.
Last night, Brad may have warmed my cold, judgemental heart just a little.
At the Phoenix “Night of Champions,” a fundraiser in support of at-risk and homeless youth, where 15 Stanley Cup winners graced the stage, Brad was nothing short of charming.
For the last few weeks, we’ve seen Brad’s car around town and at the rink…a shiny black Lamborghini…but when prompted by the interviewer about his new ride and what it was, his answer of “92 Honda Civic” caused me to chuckle. It was obvious Brad wasn’t interested in discussing his car but when pushed that much harder, he backed up his answer by stating that it’s for fun at the moment…but not exactly the car he’ll have when he’s married with children.
I thought he handled himself fantastically. In fact, I thought all of the “Champions” handled themselves brilliantly even though the questions posed to them weren’t exactly those I was interested in hearing. For example, on the day it was announced that Marchand was one of the players picked to go to the Olympic camp, I may have asked him for his reaction to the exciting news rather than what kind of car he drove. And definitely, I would have asked Crosby something of greater value than what he ordered at a local takeout last week!
However, despite my disappointment at questions asked, it was pretty amazing to be at the Phoenix Night of Champions and I was impressed at how well the entire night went. I saw hockey heros close up and enjoyed both my father’s and son’s reactions as the evening wore on. We were lucky enough to sit with the family of Darryl and Wendell Young…two of the men on stage. I greatly enjoyed watching their children’s, wives, siblings and parents faces…how very proud they are of these wonderful men! With Darryl being one of my son’s coaches…we’ve had the pleasure of hearing fantastic stories not to mention receive invaluable coaching and mentoring through the years!
Later that evening, I enjoyed a great conversation and a couple of beverages with Fancy’s cousin, Joe Dipenta, and his lovely wife, Jessica. It truly was a fantastic night.
Time and again I heard the players say how hard work and dedication are key. They were humble, inspiring and all too happy to pay back to the community they came from. I was equally taken by Chris…from Phoeninx Youth. His story had me every bit inspired as the hockey players I came to see.
But, back to Brad and my reasons for my slight change of heart…as the evening continued he graciously meandered through the crowd allowing folks to take pictures. He signed umpteen autographs with a smile on his face and when it was time for the live auction, where one of his signed jerseys were on the block, he stepped onto the stage and presented his jersey a la Vanna White.
So…while I’ve not been a fan, I may have a wee different view of the man I saw last night who charmed the crowd and many young players in attendance. I’ve watched him and Sidney in practices over the last two weeks and they honestly seem to be more friendly than the media may have otherwise suggested in the past. They sat next to each other on the stage last night and the rapport between them was obvious.
Maybe I’ve seen it wrong, maybe Brad has changed…and maybe it’s time I gave this guy a second chance.
Oh…and as far as the questions I really wanted to hear, check out John Moore’s video of Marchand’s reaction on being invited to Olympic Camp! While you’re at it, follow John on twitter @RinkRant where I’m sure he’ll be posting more videos in the days ahead! Thanks John for always asking exactly the right quesitons.
And thanks Phoenix…for this BRILLIANT event!