There is likely no one who enjoyed playing hockey as much as Brad Marsh. A first-round draft choice of the Atlanta Flames in 1978, he joined the ranks of NHL players that fall, playing all 80 games with the Flames that season. When Atlanta relocated to Calgary for 1980-81, Marsh went with the team up to Alberta and stayed there until he was traded to Philadelphia for Mel Bridgman in November 1981.
Marsh was an exuberant Flyer until the completion of the 1987-88 season. He was picked up by the Maple Leafs in the waiver draft preceding the 1988-89 season. He quickly became a fan favourite. What he lacked in polish, he made up for in enthusiasm. His skating style, almost running on his skates, was awkward, but it got him efficiently from place to place. In a league of conformity, Brad Marsh was one of the last NHL skaters to play without a helmet.
In February 1991, Toronto gave up on Marsh, and he was sent to Detroit in return for an eighth-round draft pick. The Leafs reacquired him in June 1992, but he never played with Toronto this time around, instead, being sent to the Ottawa Senators. But Marsh’s popularity never dimmed in Canada’s capital, either, and after playing 1992-93 with the Senators, his final season in the NHL, he opened his own bar/restaurant in Ottawa’s Corel Centre. Called ‘Marshy’s,’ it is jammed on game nights both before and after Senators’ games.
Brad Marsh also had the honour of watching his sweater number retired by the London Knights, the last amateur club with which the popular defenseman played. Brad Marsh will be remembered for his zest for the game of hockey. He certainly won’t be recalled as a sniper. Through 1,086 NHL games, Brad Marsh scored a total of 23 goals–a pace of one every 47 games played. Brad Marsh was not blessed with a natural talent to play hockey. But he was born with a strong physique and a copious supply of determination and willingness to work hard. He put those attributes to work, spending four seasons with the London Knights where, in his final campaign, he picked up 63 points and 192 penalty minutes in 62 games. His offensive output and his gritty play set him up as the Atlanta Flames first-round pick of the 1978 Amateur Draft.
Marsh made the jump straight into the NHL and quickly established himself as an honest, lunch-pail defenseman who entertained adoring fans with his likable personality and playing style. He lasted with the Flames until after they moved to Calgary when, in 1982, he was dispatched to Philadelphia.
With the Flyers, Marsh found a stylistic home where, for more than six seasons, he relished his role as a plodding, stay-at-home crease-clearer who helped his team make it to the Stanley Cup finals in 1985 and 1987. The only sour note of his career was the fact that his club fell short of the Grail on both occasions.
In 1988, Marsh joined the Maple Leafs for two-and-a-half entertaining seasons before closing out his career with stints in Detroit and, finally, Ottawa, where he racked up one final, life-long memory. He was selected to represent the Senators at the 1993 All-Star game in which he scored a goal.
In retirement, Marsh stayed on with the Sens’ organization to work as the club’s Director of Team and Business Development.