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Off-ice commitment has Recchi strong at age 42

Friday, 10.22.2010 / 1:10 PM / Zigtech Ultimate Training powered by Reebok

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Off-ice commitment has Recchi strong at age 42
To still be a useful NHL player at 42 isn't easy, but Boston Bruins forward Mark Recchi willingly puts in the hard work to make it happen.
Mark Recchi never has been afraid of hard work. And that attitude has paved the way for Recchi's ability to last more than two decades in a sport as physically demanding as hockey at the NHL level.

"If you can't come to the rink and work hard every day -- it's an hour to two hours out of your day -- who wouldn't want to do that?" said Recchi, who at 42 is the oldest player in the League "It's awesome and it's a privilege to play in the NHL, I love it. Playing the game of hockey, and why not come and work?"

But with all the mileage on Recchi's hockey odometer -- 1,576 regular-season games and 164 Stanley Cup Playoff games, including two runs that ended with him hoisting the Stanley Cup -- hasn't it become a little harder or more daunting to show up for those off-season workouts to prepare for yet another season?

"If it hurts a little more that day, then so be it," Recchi said. "I enjoy it and it is what has kept me going."

Those are not just words offered up in the defense of political correctness, either.

Teammates are the first one to spot a player that is just going through the motions -- doing the bare minimum without enthusiasm -- during off-ice training.

Suffice it to say that Recchi does not fall into that category.

Recchi's routine has changed a bit as a concession to his advancing age, but he remains a gym fiend.

"I usually start feeling when I need to jump on things," Recchi said. "But at this point, with my age and everything, I have to be careful. At the same time, I know that I need it."

These days Recchi does a lot of sprint work in an attempt to maintain his fast-twitch muscle responses. He also says he spends a lot of time doing squats and many of the new hip-specific drills that have started to infiltrate hockey workouts in the past few years.

The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

"He comes to the rink, works hard every day, even though there's a lot of 42-year-olds that don't move like him," Lucic said last season as the Bruins approached the postseason. "But he's great. He's a great leader. As a young guy, he's someone you can look up to."

And plenty of players look up to Recchi.

This season, the Bruins are trying to infuse some youth into their lineup, including Tyler Seguin, the No. 2 pick of the 2010 Entry Draft. Seguin, 18, made the Bruins out of camp and joins young forwards Jordan Caron and Brad Marchand as part of a trio of first-year forwards that is being asked to make an immediate impact.

While it never is an easy task for youngsters to play a major role at the highest level of the sport, Boston management is confident that its young players have a leg up because of the presence of a veteran leader like Recchi.

"He's looking forward to helping the younger kids," Boston GM Peter Chiarelli said this summer. "He can manage their expectations, manage their lifestyles and all that. It's a group effort, but someone like Mark, who has done it and has done it successfully, will be an asset to our team."

Boston coach Claude Julien trusts Recchi to set the tone in the locker room and lead by example, and knows the impressionable youngsters will have no choice but to follow Recchi's lead.

"It is hard for young guys to not want to follow when they see a guy that has been around that long lead by example," Julien said last spring, even before Seguin and Caron joined the team. "His work ethic and commitment, I can't say enough about what he has brought to our team."
This fall, Recchi has taken some good-natured ribbing as the 18-year-old Seguin has skated on his line for the first few games of the season. The requisite jokes about the Recchi-Seguin partnership being a father-son affair have been lobbed inside the dressing room; the needle from teammates expertly dug into Recchi's thick skin.

"In one way it's a compliment," Recchi said. "I actually started with two kids the other night and they weren't even the same age as me put together, so it definitely puts things in perspective. It's awesome, though.

"The kids are great and that is what keeps me going."

The kids? Maybe. An unwavering commitment to keeping his body in perfect condition? Definitely.


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