When the Boston Bruins open training camp in early September, one name not to forget as a possible replacement to Tim Taylor is Marquis Mathieu. Mathieu a 5-foot-11, 190 pound center, spent most of last season playing on the “D Line” for the Calder Cup Champion Providence Bruins recording 15 goals, 30 points in 64 games with 166 pim. In the past 5 years, Mathieu has had stints in Wheeling, Fredericton, Raliegh, Toledo, Worcester, Johnstown, Birmingham, and Houston. Recently, Marquis held down a job at the parts counter of a Suzuki dealership in Quebec city.
Two years ago, Mathieu was recovering from abdominal surgery and worked for a Suzuki dealership. “I found out what it was like to wake up every day and have to go to work for a living. I thought there had to be a better life for me than working 9 to 5″. Realizing he wanted to give hockey another chance, Mathieu joined the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and impressed bench boss Peter Laviolette. When Laviolette took the head coaching job in Providence last season, he convinced Bruins management to sign Mathieu to an AHL contract. By October, the Bruins liked Mathieu so much they promoted him to Boston ahead of top prospects Cameron Mann and Randy Robitaille. Mathieu signed a 1 year NHL contract with the Bruins on the airplane to his first game in Montreal for $325,000 (U.S.).
Mathieu is an in-your-face type of player who frequently gets compared to former NHLers Ken Linsman and Keith Acton. As all Providence opponents know, Mathieu is not one to shy away from on-ice confrontations. He’s at the top of his game when he is raising havoc in the other team’s end and being his normal chippy self. Mathieu can be a very annoying opponent, and easily gets under opponents skin with his irritating tactics. “I think I’m marked by the officials. If someone hits me and I fall, they’re not going to call anything because I dive. And if I hit somebody and it looks bad, I’m done”.
All season long, Providence coach Peter Laviolette has preached that Mathieu’s checking line sets the tone of games. “When that line(of Mathieu-Joel Prpic and Aaron Downey) comes out hitting and finishing checks and forcing the puck deep in the other team’s end, the other guys seem to feed off it. They come out and pound and pound and get things going”. Laviolette had no complaints about the way Mathieu’s line performed, especially in the 1999 Calder Cup playoffs. He expected that kind of tenacious effort in every game and was never disappointed. High-octane offenses such as those belonging to the Hartford Wolf Pack and Rochester Americans learned how effective Mathieu and his linemates could play during the post season as their bids to earn Calder hardware were thwarted in large part by the P-Bruins’ tenacious checking and effective counter attack.
If Mathieu shows up to this years training camp with the same determination he demonstrated in Proviedence all season long and especially during the Calder Cup drive, expect him to be a contender to center between Per-Johan Axelsson and Rob DiMaio in Boston. In his 9 game stint with the big club this season Mathieu won an outstanding 63% of his faceoffs. His consistently outstanding work ethic on the ice has made him a favorite of Bruins coach Pat Burns. With training camp about 20 days away, Mathieu will soon have his chance to prove himself all over again.