One would think Mark Recchi's two-plus decades of NHL experience will come in handy when the puck drops on the 2011 Stanley Cup Final on Wednesday night at Rogers Arena.
But the Boston Bruins' veteran forward strongly disagrees.
"You know what? It doesn't," the 43-year-old told reporters on Monday, two days before his team opens a best-of-seven series against the Vancouver Canucks. "At this point, it really doesn't matter. We've learned a lot through the course of the season with this group of guys. There's been some guys that have been through a lot. Same as Vancouver -- they've got some guys that have been through a lot. Some hardships, some good things, and it's just a matter of going out and playing and enjoying it. I mean, this is fun. It's exciting times for everybody."
It's been five years since Recchi was last in position to win a Stanley Cup, when he helped the Carolina Hurricanes win that franchise's lone championship in 2006. Considering there's a strong possibility this season will be his last in the NHL, the Bruins are hoping the Kamloops, British Columbia native can leave the game with one more piece of jewelry.
"It would be nice for a couple of reasons," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "Obviously his commitment especially to our team since he's been with us and the will to really go above and beyond his role as a player and really have taken some young players under his wing and has been bringing them home for meals, or whether he's talked to them about certain situations and certain times of the year. Some young guys go through slumps, and as a coach you can talk to those guys and try and do the best you can, encourage them and help them correct what needs to be corrected.
"But when you got a guy like Mark Recchi in the dressing room that will go up to this player and put his arm around him and say, 'Listen, I've been through this' and so on and so forth, these are the things that are part of the game. And coaches are as good as the people that surround them, and a lot of time you think it's just about assistant coaches or other people. It's also about their players, and when their players get it, they can certainly be a big asset to us because we come in the dressing room, we give them the message that we need to give them, but it has to be reinforced by players. And Mark [Recchi] has always been the one who, one of many in that dressing room that's done that. He's been a really valuable asset to our hockey club and he's got a lot of things to back it up with."
Certainly, it will take an all-hands-on-deck approach for the Bruins to win this series that pits them against the Presidents' Trophy winners. Vancouver racked up 54 victories and 117 points during the regular season and disposed of the No. 2 San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Finals in just five games.
"We only played them once this year, so we haven't gone over really a lot of team stuff," Recchi said. "But, I mean obviously they're a Presidents' Trophy winner, they're a great hockey team, deep and well coached, and we'll look at things we have to do. I mean obviously, any key to your team's success is how you play personally. I think we focus on what we do ourselves. Our coaching staff will give us obviously their tendencies, and their coaching staff will give them our tendencies. It's who’s going to want it more and who's going to play to their abilities the best and their game plan the best."