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Experienced Recchi looks to lift Bruins

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
Mark Recchi was facing an early summer when word came he was getting a fresh start.

It's obviously a great feeling because you put in a lot of hard work and it shows in the respect that you get from other teams. It says they believe you can come in and fit in and help out. Not everyone can do it, but I have the experience from doing it and winning in 2006. - Mark Recchi
The Boston Bruins insured Recchi’s season will head into the postseason when they acquired him from the Tampa Bay Lightning to add his veteran savvy and presence for the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

"To get picked up by a first-place team is really nice and comforting. It's a team that thinks I can help, and I'm going to do everything I can to," Recchi said. "Boston's been pretty successful the last few years with other sports. I think it's Bruins time."

Having to postpone any tee times or vacations was fine with Recchi

"That's what 99 percent of the NHL players play for — to get a chance to win the Stanley Cup," he said. "I have no illusions I'm going to go in and change anything there. I'm going to do whatever it takes to win hockey games. As long as you have that thought process, you're going to fit in."

Why did the Bruins want Recchi? His two Stanley Cups, seven NHL All-Star Game selections and a third-place finish in voting for the 2000 Hart Trophy as the League’s most valuable player were big reasons.

All told, Recchi has 537 goals and added 891 assists for 1,428 points in 1,477 NHL games over 20 seasons. He ranks second among active players in assists and points, third in games and sixth in goals.

Recchi, 41, signed with the Lightning last July and was the team's third-leading scorer when he went to Boston.

The Bruins hope Recchi can do for them what he did for the 2006 Carolina Hurricanes, who acquired him at the trading deadline. Then, Recchi had 4 goals and 3 assists in 20 regular-season games, and another 7 goals and 9 assists in 25 Stanley Cup Playoff games, helping Carolina win the Stanley Cup in a seven-game series against the Edmonton Oilers.

That kind of clutch performance wasn't surprising because Recchi has 47 goals and 70 assists in 140 Stanley Cup Playoff games. He was one of the Pittsburgh Penguins' most valuable players in their 1991 Stanley Cup victory, when he had 10 goals and 24 assists in 24 games.

Recchi took advantage of his fresh start in Boston in his second game, March 7, when he scored twice in a 5-3 home victory against the Chicago Blackhawks. Recchi has been playing left wing on a line with Patrice Bergeron and Chuck Kobasew, two highly skilled young veterans. While Recchi only has those two goals in his first five games in Boston, Kobasew has had 3 goals and an assist and Bergeron has 5 assists.

More importantly, Bergeron is looking more like his old self after two straight seasons in which he has suffered concussions.

"From what the guys are saying, you can see Bergeron is regaining his confidence," Recchi said. "When you go through what he's been through the past 1 1/2 or two years, it's not easy. But I think he's back to being the player everybody has seen in the past. He's holding onto the puck and playing with strength. He's a great two-way player.

"It's fun to see him getting back to health and it's fun to play with him. I'm just trying to support Chuck and Patrice by going to the areas that they need me to go."

It seems lately the Bruins are winning games by fairly large margins or losing by one goal, often in overtime or shootouts. They found ways to win those games earlier this season.

"At times we lose our focus a little bit," Recchi said. "That's the biggest thing, and it gets us in trouble. (Thursday) night was a perfect example. They made it 4-3, and after that we had a good mentality, stayed focused and they didn't generate anything. That's a good sign. We have some young people here, but we have enough people that the coach (Claude Julien) can rely on to settle things down in those situations."

Settling things down was exactly the role Recchi played in the Hurricanes' dressing room when he joined a young core that included Eric Staal, Justin Williams, Erik Cole, Matt Cullen, Mike Commodore and Cam Ward. Recchi was asked how he helped settle that team.

The problem is Recchi never has been inclined to brag. He sees a task, does it and doesn't expect praise. It's the way Mel and Ruth Recchi raised him back in Kamloops, B.C., where he remains a local hero, the city's best athlete ever. He's always had a great sense of humility.

"I'm not sure. You're better off asking them that question," he said of his effect in Carolina. "The biggest thing is you really want to just come in and fit in. I'm not coming here to change anything. I'm just a small piece of something that is already very good. They have a good thing going here and I want to jump on board and do what is asked of me. They've been doing well all year.

"If you think that way, it makes the adjustment easier. Just go out and play and do the right things and not screw it up."

This is the fourth time Recchi has been traded at or near the trading deadline, so he's got a good idea of what a team wants from him at this point in the season.

"It's obviously a great feeling because you put in a lot of hard work and it shows in the respect that you get from other teams," he said. "It says they believe you can come in and fit in and help out. Not everyone can do it, but I have the experience from doing it and winning in 2006."

Recchi said he's enjoying life in Boston, an Original Six city. He's living in a downtown hotel while wife Alexa and children Christina, Cameron and Austin finish out the school year in Tampa, Fla.

"It's not too bad," Recchi said. "Everyone will be coming up here for a visit, but I have to focus on what I have to do here."

Author: John McGourty | Staff Writer

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