BOSTON – Just based on their irascible on-ice nature, Bruins forward Brad Marchand and Lightning winger Steve Downie will undoubtedly be at each other’s throats from the moment both are on the ice at the same time in the upcoming Eastern Conference final between Boston and Tampa Bay.
Even as teammates on the 2007 Canadian World Junior Championship entry in Sweden, the pair of agitators rarely saw eye to eye.
“We kind of clashed a bit because we’re a little bit of the same player. We got into it a little bit in [summer tryout] camp and things kind of boiled over a bit,” Marchand told TheBruinsBlog.net this week after a practice to prepare for tonight’s Game 1 of the series at the TD Garden.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how things go in this series.”
Marchand described the camp incident as Downie jumping off the bench during a scrimmage to come to the defense of Claude Giroux. Marchand admits he might’ve thrown a bit of a cheap shot at the future Philadelphia forward, but “you’re not supposed to fight in those camps.” Downie, according to Marchand, was reprimanded by the coaching staff.
When asked about the incident today after the Lightning’s morning skate, Downie said he hadn’t thought much about it in the five years since and couldn’t recalled exactly what happened.
However, he remembered the reason he did it:
“[Marchand] was being himself, so …”
So Marchand and Downie were able to bury the hatchet enough to skate on the same line centered by future Edmonton forward Andrew Cogliano on the road to the gold medal. Marchand scored two goals, while Downie added three goals and three assists.
According to Marchand, the pair of agitators never completely made up after the incident. They’ve met a few times over the years since in the AHL and NHL with few fireworks. In the heat of the battle in the Stanley Cup semifinals, however, it might finally be some time for payback.
Both Marchand and Downie are going to be trying to take their irritating ways to new heights. They’re bound to run into one another at some point.
“He plays it to a tee,” said Marchand about Downie playing the agitator role. “He can score. He’s having a great playoffs right now. He’s a very hard player to play against. He hits very hard, he fights, he’s a very tough kid. And he’s always in guys’ heads. He’s one of those players you hate to play against.”
Downie also credited Marchand for “doing a very good job” in that role for Boston.
It’s safe to say there won’t be much reminiscing about that ’07 gold medal win or that training camp from the summer before. Anything Marchand and Downie share verbally or physically during this best-of-seven series promises to be inflammatory.