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Bruins Marquis Mathieu not a marquis player
Sun. Nov. 8, 1998. By Ken Campbell, Toronto Star Sports Reporter.

If you had heard of Marquis Mathieu before this season, you're either a big fan of the East Coast Hockey League or you have far too much time on your hands.

For the record, Mathieu is a 5-foot-11, 190-pound centre for the Boston Bruins. In the past five years, he has enjoyed stints in Wheeling, Fredericton, Raleigh, Toledo, Worcester, Johnstown, Birmingham, Houston and the parts counter of a Suzuki dealership in Quebec city.

And he's part of a growing breed of NHL player - the guy you've never heard of before. Like Harry York, Bruce Gardiner, Phil Crowe, Ray Schultz and Hal Gill before him, obscure players such as Mathieu are springing up like dandelions. Ever heard of Dan Smith? He played for the Colorado Avalanche earlier this season. What about Jan Mertzig? Bet you didn't know him from Adam Oates until he lined up beside Jeff Beukeboom for the Rangers last night. Get used to it. When the NHL bloats to 30 teams in the next two years, the Marquis Mathieus of the world will be all over the place.

Two years ago, Marquis was recovering from abdominal surgery and was working at a Suzuki shop in his home town when he realized he wanted to give hockey one last try.

``I found out what it was like to wake up every day and have to go out to work for a living,'' said Mathieu, 25. ``I thought there had to be a better life for me than working 9 to 5.''

Mathieu joined the Wheeling (W. Va.) Nailers of the ECHL last season and when Nailers coach Peter Laviolette got a job with the Providence Bruins of the American Hockey League, he brought in Mathieu. The parent team liked him so much it promoted him ahead of other prospects such as Cameron Mann and Randy Robitaille, and Mathieu signed a $325,000 (U.S.) contract on the flight to Montreal for his first game.

Mathieu is an in-your-face player who has been described as a poor man's Ken Linseman or Keith Acton. His gumption and determination has made him a favourite of Bruins coach Pat Burns.

``I've come a pretty long way,'' Mathieu said. ``You don't hear a story like mine too often.''

In today's NHL, you're starting to hear it more all the time.