When Brad Marchand's mother, Lynn, starts in, his finger might slip toward the "end call" button on his phone.
He doesn't want to hear it, not really, even though he knows her anxiety is warranted. After all, she was part of the large group of family members who had traveled to Boston for the 2016 NHL Winter Classic to watch Marchand play against the Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium, only to be left with tickets for a game in which her son wasn't allowed to take the ice, due to suspension.
"They were all pretty disappointed," he said. "Kind of ruined the trip. It was tough."
It's a subject that remains a sore spot, even three years later, as Marchand prepares to play in the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame Stadium in South Bend, Indiana, on Jan. 1 (1 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVAS). But not so sore that he can't joke about it.
Sitting down for an interview Dec. 16, Marchand quipped, "I might (get a) phantom injury for the next two weeks."
Some might argue it's the only way to truly ensure Marchand plays in the game. He wouldn't necessarily disagree.
Underneath the jokes and the deflections, it's clear that what happened before the 2016 Winter Classic was painful for Marchand.