|Kamloops Showed Rex the Way
According to Wikipedia, In 2000 Mark Recchi was named "Kamloops Male Athlete of the 20th Century" and had a street named "Mark Recchi Way" in his honor, but it's Recchi who is honored to call Kamloops home.
"Well I mean that’s where I grew up...and matured," said the 42-year old forward. "I got the opportunity to play for my junior team; I’m part owner of the team now."
At two seasons as a player, Recchi's time with the Blazers was short but memorable. In just 102 games with Kamloops, Recchi earned a 87-143-230 line and the club retired his number-8 after he moved on to the NHL.
These days, Recchi's legacy with the Blazers continues to grow. Now part of the ownership group in Kamloops, Mark joins Tom Gagliardi as well as NHL players Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla and Darryl Sydor on the masthead.
"I mean, everything is there. That’s where I become who I am and how I got to where I was because of growing up in a nice town like Kamloops and I love it to death," said Recchi. "It’s just a wonderful place to be and I can’t wait to go back there.
"I’m actually bringing my kids out [there] and we’re going out there to spend a little time. [Dad’s] 70th birthday was a little while ago amd I was able to sneak out there for a little while."
Although he can't be there as much as he would like, Kamloops and the junior team are on consistently on his mind.
"We’re going to have a great team this year in Kamloops," Recchi said.
"I think they’re really going to be recognized as one of the top teams this year...out in the Western Conference.
"And we’re still one of the youngest teams as well, which is a great thing. We’ve got a great coach [in Guy Charron]...and just part of it is watching the building process to me has been fun."
Mark Recchi has been around a long time. A long, long time.
Obviously, that's nothing you haven't read before. However, it is worth celebrating. When I recently called Recchi, he reveled in the thought that he is old enough to be the father of some of his teammates.
"It’s true," he said with a rye chuckle. "Steven Stamkos, you know I played a few years back when I was 39 or 38 and while I was in Pittsburgh here and I was on a line with Malkin and Staal and they weren’t even as old as me -- put together!
"It was pretty funny, they gave me a hard time and joked around about it, but I think it’s kind of cool. I would love to play with my son but, you know, he’s only nine so we got a ways yet. I don’t think I’m going to make it."
But if anyone could make it happen...
"I feel like a father figure with these real young guys and I feel like I can help them along, especially in the hockey world," said Recchi, suddenly serious. "I can try and help them as much as I can off the ice and, being around a long time, I think I can help them with the ups-and-downs."
Frankly, Rechhi hasn't had that many downs, what with two Stanley Cups and the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan and the like. Among active players, Recchi currently ranks first in games played with 1571, first in assits with 922, first in points with 1485 and second in goals with 563 behind Teemu Selanne's 606.
In Nagano, Recchi notched two assists and helped lead the Canadian team to the Olympic Final against Finland, where Canada lost a tightly contested 3-2 game.
Looking at the stats and accomplishments, you have to ask, "Why keep playing?"
"Win one more Cup," he said. "That’s what I want.
"I want to win one more Cup and it’s what I keep playing for.
"There is nothing better than that high for a player," added Recchi. "It took me 15 years in-between [winning the Cup] and I’m hoping to get another crack at it.
"That’s all I can ask and I think the Bruins are giving me as a great of an opportunity as anyone so I’m excited."
|The Boston Bruins have gave a one-year contract extension to 42-year-old Recchi, the NHL's oldest active player under contract. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File) |
Most of Boston is excited as well, although some of the enthusiasm waned when the B's lost four straight after leading three-games-to-none in the second round of last season's Stanley Cup playoffs.
That excitment however, has returned alongside a revamped Bruins roster for the 2010-2011 campaign.
Recchi looks at the B's lineup and sees a serious chance at Lord Stanley next spring.
"Well obviously I like what they’ve done," he said. "First of all, when you have a second overall pick and you can get a player like [Tyler] Seguin that’s a pretty darn good start.
"When...you can get a scorer like [Nathan] Horton, who I believe has potential that has been untapped, and is ready -- I think he’s matured, I think he's at a stage in his career where he is going to bloom -- and I think Boston is a wonderful market for him to come in and do it. I think the fans are really going to like this kid and we are going to like him as teammates."
Ah, the fans. The market. It certainly helps the cause, doesn't it?
"Well number one, I think it’s an amazing sports town. Number two, it’s an amazing city, a great city. I mean it’s probably one of the most livable cities I’ve been around. It’s beautiful, the people are friendly, downtown is incredible and obviously the suburbs are nice. You’ve got water everywhere; the whole environment is just a wonderful place to live," Recchi said.
"And then the hockey part. The fans are just very passionate about their sports and that’s a fun thing to be a part of.
"I think that’s why you’ll see the Horton's and the kids that haven’t been in that environment thrive on stuff like that because when we do get in that environment it brings out the best in people."
For sure, the Bruins management has made great strides towards that end.
"Obviously, Peter [Chiarelli] came in [as general manager]; they had a plan and it takes time when you’re trying to build a team and you’re trying to build through the draft," said Recchi. "They did it the right way.
"Then you can pick some free agents along the way and I mean if you look at their draft picks...they’re playing and the draft picks that they’ve turned into assets, it’s incredible.
"I think Peter has done a terrific job in doing all that; where he set it up now for this team to be successful for a long, long time now."
2 Seasons with Kamloops (WHL)
4th rd. draft pick of Pens, 67th overall (1988)
7 NHL teams (Penguins, Flyers, Canadiens, Hurricanes, Thrashers, Lighting, Bruins)
28 number with Boston
42 years old
563 NHL goals
922 NHL assists
1485 NHL points
1571 NHL regular season games
1991 Stanley cup champion with Pittsburgh
1998 Olympic games
2006 Stanley cup champion with Carolina." -Recchi by the Numbers
That's not so easy in the current NHL.
"Especially with the salary cap," said Recchi. "The Bruins organization has really done a wonderful job with that.
"Not only can we be a great team right now but this team is set up for the next five, seven, 10 years and that’s pretty hard to do."
Recchi is learning that process first hand as the owner of his old junior team in Kamloops.
"Well you know it’s juniors versus NHL – there is a big difference, but you still run your programs the same way. You still have to draft and worry about the kids getting drafted as well," explained Recchi.
"I did tell [Peter Chiarelli] about some of our players and obviously they didn’t go for it but you got work hard at getting these kids drafted and profiled.
"We’re going to have a great team this year in Kamloops and I think they’re really going to be recognized as one of the top teams...and we’re still one of the youngest teams as well, which is a great thing."
"Watching the building process, to me, has been fun and that’s what I enjoy the most; is how to build a team and that’s what I really like about hockey," added the NHL vet. "I’m not so much into the coaching aspect of it.
"I like the building part."
And that, my friends, might be the main reason we'll see Recchi back in Black & Gold this September.
"I thoroughly enjoy being around these kids and they make me feel younger," said Recchi. "And I think it goes both ways.
"I never stop learning either, so I can learn from them and I’m hoping to just help them along." ---Abigail Seaver and Brian Smith contributed to this report.