Former rugged NHL defender Bryan Marchment dies at 53

Former NHL defenseman Bryan Marchment passed away unexpectedly on Wednesday in Montreal, his agent said. He was 53.

Longtime agent Rick Curran confirmed Marchment’s death to The Associated Press. Marchment attended the NHL draw in Montreal as a scout for San Jose Sharks.

A cause of death was not immediately known.

“It’s a sad day for me personally, a very sad day for our organization,” said Mike Grier, who was named Sharks general manager on Tuesday. “He meant a lot to a lot of people in our organization, our players, our staff – everyone who knew Brian, the type of man he was.

“He was just an honest, down to earth, loving person who just cared about everyone. He had time for everyone in the building. He had time for everyone he met.”

Marchment played parts of 17 NHL seasons from 1989-2006 with Winnipeg, Chicago, Hartford, Edmonton, Tampa Bay, San Jose, Colorado, Toronto and Calgary.

The NHL and NHL Alumni Association expressed their condolences in statements released Wednesday afternoon. News of Marchment’s death reached the GMs as they attended their annual draft meeting.

“Just shocking and devastating news,” said Chuck Fletcher of Philadelphia. ‘Very young man. It’s clear you’re thinking of his family and friends right now.”

Grier played with Marchment in the Oilers and said Marchment was quick to treat him with respect and make him feel at home.

He would like us to go back to work and do our best and have the best version possible.— Sharks general manager Mike Grier on the late Bryan Marchment

“If I ever needed anything, whether it was a home-cooked dinner instead of eating out every day, he and… [wife] Kim wants me to come over,” Grier said. “So it’s a very difficult day.”

Grier praised Marchment as a hard worker and said members of the San Jose staff would continue their responsibilities in the draft with a heavy heart.

“I’ve given them some time to regroup and have some time to themselves and process and grieve,” he said. “I know ‘Mush’ – that’s what he would say. He would want us to go back to work and do our best and have the best possible version, so we’ll get back to work.”

The Toronto native has worked in scouting and other roles for the Sharks and their American Hockey League affiliate since 2007.

13 suspensions in first 12 seasons

Marchment was known for playing with a lead and sometimes going over it. He is 31st overall in NHL penalty minutes with 2,307. He was banned from the league 13 times in his first 12 NHL seasons.

Maple Leafs forward Mike Gartner sustained a partially collapsed lung in a collision with Marchment and then the Oilers during a 1996 game in Edmonton. Gartner had to return to Toronto by train because changes in air pressure could damage his lungs.

According to a New York Times article after the match, Marchment said his hit on Gartner was “payback” for a previous fight.

Some social media tributes after news of his death circulated described Marchment’s softer side of the ice. Christina Marleau, wife of longtime Sharks captain Patrick Marleau, posted that Marchment had introduced the couple “and would remind us every time we saw him.”

“The world has really lost a good man today,” she said.

Marchment is survived by wife Kim, son Mason, an attacker with the Florida Panthers, and daughter Logan.

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