This story originally ran at Florida Hockey Now on March 15. With news of Bryan Marchment passing away on Wednesday, this story is free for all to read.
For the first time in his NHL career, Mason Marchment will return to his old stomping grounds in San Jose when the Florida Panthers take on the Sharks on Tuesday night.
It is a place that holds a lot of memories as he was a youngster when his dad Bryan was a bruising defenseman for the Sharks from 1998-2003.
Although the return of Joe Thornton to San Jose on Tuesday night will get all of the attention, Marchment is going to enjoy his San Jose homecoming as well.
“I’m definitely excited for it, I haven’t been there since I was 14,” Mason Marchment told Florida Hockey Now.
“It would be nice to see everyone again. When they came down last time, I got to see the staff. It’s all the same guys, so it was cool.”
Monday afternoon, he got a big taste of home as the Panthers practiced at the Sharks’ facility and Marchment seemed to enjoy himself immensely.
“Driving into this little area where we’re staying, it felt like home a little bit,” Marchment said. “This rink is probably the one I have been in the most since I grew up around it. It’s great to be back.”
Mason spent a number of his formative years hanging around the Sharks’ locker room as his dad looked on.
“He was three or four when we got there and left at around seven or eight,” Bryan Marchment told FHN on Monday. “We didn’t bring the kids to the room all that much back then, but when he (was there), he just wanted to hang with the guys.”
Mason may not have known it at the time, but he was getting a good lesson on what it took to be a professional hockey player during those visits.
Those lessons have been paying off for him ever since — for both Marchment and the Florida Panthers.
Marchment did not start playing hockey until he was 11 years old — after his dad made stops in Toronto and Calgary as a player and eventually retired.
In the meantime, he spent his time around the Sharks players playing ping pong and hanging out on the golf course.
“It was big, but for me, I didn’t skate much. I wasn’t too good at skating, but it was definitely fun to be around the rink and the boys and meet all of those guys,” Mason said.
What did rub off on Marchment was the competitiveness of the game, something which ended up helping him down the line after his late start to hockey.
“Hockey aside, he always hated to lose in anything he did and he still does. That’s where he gets it from,” Bryan Marchment said. “Whether he is playing board games, lawn darts or cards, he hates to lose. So when he started playing, he had that gamesmanship down.”
When Mason stepped on the rink for the first time as an 11-year-old, he did have an advantage over some of the other kids he played against.
He attended Sharks’ development camps with his dad and got to see how much effort it took to get to the NHL.
Although not playing at the time, he did seem to take some mental notes.
“It was a real eye-opener for him,” Bryan Marchment said. “To see the effort that all of these young kids are putting in the middle of the summer in July, that was the real eye-opener for him.”
So, when he started playing A-level hockey, he got to work.
It was a long road for Mason at that point, however.
While most top hockey prospects started playing major junior hockey at 16, Mason Marchment was still climbing up the youth ranks at that point.
It was not until he was 19 that he was playing in the OHL with the Erie Otters.
He spent two years in the OHL, being traded to the Hamilton Bulldogs and later the Mississauga Steelheads in his second year at the major-junior level.
While not getting drafted, he impressed enough to get picked up by the Toronto Maple Leafs as an undrafted free agent, scoring 28 goals and 77 points in 115 OHL games.
“It’s changed from year to year, but he had little glimpses of getting to the next level very quickly and he just took advantage of it, had a little fun, and worked hard at it,” Bryan Marchment said.
After grinding through Toronto’s minor league system for four years, Mason Marchment finally got his opportunity when he was traded to Florida in 2020.
In what seemed like an inconsequential move at the time, the Panthers sent depth forward Denis Malgin to the Maple Leafs for the 6-4, 209-pound forward.
Marchment was 24 at the time.
That move worked wonders for Florida — and for Marchment, as well.
He scored 10 points in 33 games during his first full season on the Panthers in the shortened 2021 season, also adding two goals in Florida’s first-round loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
He showed enough potential that then-coach Joel Quenneville decided to try him out at certain points on the first line with Sasha Barkov.
“I am just trying to play my game. Q has shown a lot of confidence in putting me out there,” Marchment said last year.
“I’m just trying to battle for him and for the boys. I feel like it has been going well and I’m going to keep rolling with it, keep playing hard and heavy. It’s a mindset where it is confidence and believing in yourself.”
Marchment built off of that to start the 2021-22 campaign, notching four points in his first three games of the season.
“I’m getting a little more comfortable in the league,” he said. “I’ve grinded my way through the ECHL, AHL and NHL. I’ve never been drafted or anything, so I’m just trying to get better every year. I’m trying to work on the little things in the gym, working on my stride, something like that, but I’m just trying to be a complete player in all aspects of the game, bring energy, and do what I can to help.”
The groove he was on hit a snag when he suffered a lower-body injury on Nov. 8 in a loss to the New York Rangers.
He was out of the lineup for almost two months, returning on Dec. 29 when those same Rangers came to town.
Marchment broke out immediately after returning, recording a point in each of his next three games, but that return was short-lived.
He was placed on the Covid-19 list on Jan. 3 and did not return until Jan. 18.
By that point, he was ready to get back to work.
“Oh yeah, I am more than ready,” Marchment said. “You have to pass a certain threshold with the Covid in order to come back and I am feeling good and ready to go. … I have had some bad luck but everything happens for a reason. I’m just trying to get better every day and be ready to play whenever I am in there.”
Since returning to the lineup, Marchment ranks fourth on the Panthers in points with 21 in 24 games.
That span includes a franchise-tying six-point night against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Jan. 30 and his first-career hat trick on Feb. 18.
With 34 points in 34 games, Marchment is crushing his totals from last season and is becoming an increasingly important player in Florida’s lineup.
While he found the most chemistry on a line alongside Anton Lundell and Sam Reinhart, he had been trusted at times to slide right back on that top line with Barkov.
“We have moved him around the lineup and he is capable of playing anywhere at any time,” Panthers coach Andrew Brunette said after Monday’s practice.
“He is a very competitive kid. I watched him from upstairs when he was in Toronto with the Marlies and to see him make leaps and bounds, is an unbelievable story how he got here. He has earned every opportunity he has been given and he has taken advantage of it.’’
The way he is playing right now, this seems to be the first of many trips to San Jose for Marchment.
His dad, a 17-year NHL veteran who now serves as a Scout & Development Coach for the Sharks, certainly has reasons to be proud.
“He has by far come a lot farther of a way than I thought he was going to. I’m very proud of him,” Bryan Marchment said.
“He has worked hard and he has stuck with it.”