Marchand/By S. Bradley

We all know that Brad Marchand scored 21 regular-season goals and 11 playoff goals while serving as a spectacular spark plug for the Bruins on their way to the Stanley Cup title last season.

For him to make good on his new two-year, $5 million contract, which was officially announced today, he has to continue to stay in the lineup and make smart decisions when it comes to agitating or knowing when to back off and just play hockey.

As I recount in my story tonight, there were some rough patches for Marchand during his mostly electric rookie season. There was the bush league golf swing toward the Toronto bench. There was the two-game suspension for the hit to the head on R.J. Umberger. And, of course, the benching he suffered through in New York near mid-March.

To his credit, Marchand admitted during a conference call to announce the end of his restricted free agent status today that he is still learning and maturing.

“I feel like throughout the year I got better at controlling my emotions,” he said.”There were times during the playoffs that the got the best of me. But for the most part the coaching staff did a great job of leading me in the right direction. And I felt as the older you get the more mature you get, and the more you play in this league the better I’ll be able to learn how to control it. I’m still a young player, I’m still trying to learn every day. That’s all part of the game.”

We’ll see if Marchand can back up his words and continue to help the Bruins more than hurt them as this season unfolds. Teams are going to take the ice with a chip on their shoulders against the defending Cup champs, and they’re going to look for every edge in an attempt to down the kings. Goading Marchand into some silly business will definitely be part of that strategy.

If Marchand is definitely the second coming of Ken “The Rat” Linseman, he has to be careful about taking the cheese.