Brad Marchand hopes fans in the worst place in the NHL know how to take a joke. He'll find out tonight.
The Boston Bruins' forward, called the "Little Ball of Hate" by President Obama, became the latest in a long line of people to mock Buffalo on Thursday. He said it was the "worst place in the NHL" during his Boston radio show, then arrived in town for practice a few hours later.
"People have to learn how to have some fun and take a joke," Marchand said in First Niagara Center, where he and the Bruins will face the Sabres tonight. "It's always cold and usually rainy when we come here, and I was just playing around. I hope I didn't offend anyone."
Odds are good he did, judging by the reaction earlier this month when fellow New England athlete Tom Brady ripped Buffalo's hotels. Marchand formulated his opinion based on weather and lack of activities.
"I heard it was a little cold in Buffalo, and I'm allergic to the cold," said Marchand, a native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who listed Montreal as his top road city to visit. "Like I said, it's a little cold here. There's not a ton to do. You come and just kind of hang around in the hotel. [Teammate Daniel Paille, a former Sabres forward] spoke very highly of it, especially in the summertime, so I'm sure it's great. There's nothing around so I don't know a whole lot about the city."
The left winger doesn't need to go far to learn about Buffalo. Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs is from Western New York, and his Delaware North Companies is headquartered in town.
"I heard that, but he's got houses in every city in the United States, so he's OK," Marchand said.
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff, who has spent 25 of his 52 years in Buffalo, shrugged off Marchand's initial statement.
"I just laugh," Ruff said. "It's just another guy that hasn't lived here or been here."
The original shot at the city came when Marchand was talking with two radio hosts at WEEI. One said, "Do you like Buffalo as a road trip spot? Buffalo is kind of a boring town, I would think."
"Buffalo is the worst place in the NHL," Marchand responded. "I'm not too excited to go there, but I'll be excited to leave."
The Sabres could be without Brad Boyes. The forward missed practice after getting injured midway through the third period of Buffalo's 2-1 victory over the New York Islanders on Tuesday.
"We dealt with it, had treatment on it [Wednesday], but we'll see whether he can get through it," Ruff said.
Forward Cody McCormick skated in Boyes' spot on the fourth line, but he is not ready to return from the upper-body injury that has cost him six games.
Adele has a Grammy-winning voice, but her ballad "Someone Like You" usually has little place in a sports locker room. When the Sabres hit their dressing room following practice, however, Adele was blaring.
"This gets me pumped up," Patrick Kaleta said with a grin.
Added center Derek Roy, "I had nothing to do with this."