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Recchi reflects on career as he cracks milestone

Wednesday, 10.28.2009 / 1:00 AM / Division Notebooks

By James Murphy - NHL.com Correspondent

Mark Recchi's 1,500th NHL game was a memorable one as the veteran forward helped the Bruins stage an improbable comeback against the Ottawa Senators last Saturday. Recchi scored the first of two goals in the final 88 seconds of regulation to help  erase a 3-1 deficit and lead to the Bruins' 4-3 shootout win. It was just another shift in what has become his office, the front of the opposing net, as Recchi tipped in a Derek Morris shot from the point.

The milestone game was special for Recchi, but for now, as he tries to help the Bruins continue to climb out of an early season slump, it is something he will wait to look back on and enjoy.

"It's something neat that I'll look back and really enjoy when I'm done, realize that I did some decent things," he said after the game. "The most important thing is that I won a couple of (Stanley) Cups. That's what you play for."

Through the course of what is sure to be a Hall-of-Fame career, Recchi has seen plenty of change in the game that is his labor of love.

"The game has changed quite a bit and it's been neat to be part of the process," said Recchi. "When I first started, it was a lot of clutching and grabbing. I shouldn't say a lot -- that was the whole game. You could rope and ride, go for a ride on someone's back, hold and hug. Now it's more of a skating game, a speed game."

Through all that change, Recchi has totaled 547 goals and has 899 assists. He also has 73 assists and 123 points in 151 playoff games.

Decision time on Myers -- Following Wednesday night's game in New Jersey, the Sabres will have to make a decision on whether to send rookie defenseman Tyler Myers back to his junior club, the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL, or to let his pro contract kick in after the allotted nine-game tryout period for players with junior hockey eligibility remaining. The 6-foot-8, 222-pound blueliner has 5 points in 8 games and is a plus-8. The team has applauded his hard work and start to his promising career, and the 19 year-old Myers seems to be comfortable at the pro level.

"Now I just feel like I'm a part of the team," Myers told the Buffalo News. "I'm just trying to help the team win every game. I'm not even thinking about it, and I'm not looking at it like a tryout. More so, I just want to help the team win."

Sabres GM Darcy Regier has been impressed by the young, towering defenseman and now must decide whether his growth will benefit from being in the NHL or back at the junior level.

"He's certainly shown that he'll play in the National Hockey League and be a good player in the National Hockey League," Regier said. "The real questions that revolve around young players, by the very nature of their youth, you have to accept a level of inconsistency in their play. Part of the process here is we have to evaluate what that range is, and whether or not we can support the range and have him grow and have the team grow, have the team win.

"You also evaluate whether you think the player can continue to grow at the junior level or if that is less than an ideal situation."

Goalie Ryan Miller doesn't seem to mind having Myers playing in front of him and likes the youngster's attitude and demeanor.

"He's got the skill and he's got the range to keep up with some of the top players in the League," Miller said of the 12th pick of the 2008 Entry Draft. "At this age it's great to see. We just hope we help him along enough that he reaches that potential. I think he's been a model teammate so far, which is important for this locker room, and he goes out and competes every night. On top of that, he's chipping in, which is great."

Fellow blueliner Toni Lydman is questionable for Wednesday night's game at New Jersey due to a groin injury.

Karlsson to play Bingo -- The Senators faced a similar decision to Sabres with 19-year-old defenseman Erik Karlsson. The 15th pick of the 2008 Entry Draft had 3 assists but a team-worst minus-4 rating in his nine games. On Tuesday, the club decided to send him to Binghamton of the American Hockey League.

"We're doing it so that Erik gets a chance to gain that experience and get exposure to the grind of playing pro hockey," Senators General Manager Bryan Murray told the team's Web site. "(It's about) being competitive every night and being important on the team. He can't have the same kind of importance here with the veterans that we have. (He can) be important down there and be a key guy on the power play.

"This is a process that most young players have to go through. We're hoping that when we bring him up -- whenever that might be -- that he will be a better player and we believe that he will be a better player."

The move also stops the clock on Karlsson's entry-level contract. But if the Senators call him back up, it will start. Murray said that won't be an issue if he believes Karlsson can help the club. Karlsson also will be available for Sweden for the 2010 World Junior Championship if he still is in the AHL in December.

Murray said Karlsson "quite emotional" when given the news, but said, "I think every young player that gets a start in the NHL and then at some point has to go down is not a happy camper. We wouldn't expect him to be."

Besides Karlsson's play, the Senators ran into a numbers issue on defense. Filip Kuba is expected to play Wednesday, and Matt Carkner and Alexandre Picard have earned the chance to stay in the lineup. Someone had to go, and that someone became Karlsson.

"Numbers always do that," said Murray. "We believe that (Karlsson) is going to be a very good offensive player in the League. We wanted to see him play games to start the year here. As the series of games went on ... the last couple in particular, I thought he was quite good.

"We believe that (Karlsson) is going to be a very good offensive player in the League. We wanted to see him play games to start the year here. As the series of games went on ... the last couple in particular, I thought he was quite good."
-- Senators General Manager Bryan Murray on Erik Karlsson

"But I talked to the coaches and asked, 'Are we going to be able to play this young player a lot as we go forward and win?' It's easier (to do that) if you have experience and you have veterans playing. We've got Filip coming back into the lineup and we have more assurance that would be the case (with him)."

Something for the left column -- It took eight games, but the Toronto Maple Leafs finally got their first win, 6-3 against Anaheim on Monday. Rookie goaltender Jonas Gustavsson returned from a groin injury to make 25 saves and the Leafs' power play scored five goals, three coming off the stick of Niklas Hagman. Defenseman Tomas Kaberle also had a goal and 4 assists on the man-advantage.

"Obviously it's huge," Hagman said after his team's first win. "The start of the year was really tough. We didn't play well. The last two games we played pretty well, we just haven't gotten the results. We knew that if we stick with the game plan, get our team to play the way that we can, that we're going to eventually win. It was big, there's no denying that."

The power play also was a good sign, as the Leafs were 5-for-11 and moved the puck well, creating opportunities and shooting lanes to the net.

"We've been trying to improve it," Hagman said. "Obviously today we got a lot of chances to work on it. We managed to find the spots that we needed to get the pucks there and shoot at the net, and we did a pretty good job today."

The Leafs also continued to get more good news on sniper Phil Kessel, who has been skating with the team and is slated to return within a week. Goaltender Vesa Toskala is day-to-day with a knee injury.
Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres