BOSTON – At 43-years-old, Mark Recchi has seen almost everything.
|Boston Bruins' Tyler Seguin (19) celebrates a break-away goal with teammate Mark Recchi (28) as Ottawa Senators' Mike Fisher (12) skates by during second period NHL hockey action in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Fred Chartrand) |
He has played for seven different NHL franchises. He’s played in the postseason in 15 of his 22 NHL seasons. He’s come back from 2-0 playoff series deficits (and not just this year against the Montreal Canadiens).
And most importantly Recchi has won a Stanley Cup.
The veteran leadership Recchi brings to this year’s Bruins squad transcends the 200-foot x 85-foot ice surface. Not only does Recchi set an example of what to do on the ice, Recchi brings his lessons of how to be a professional to the Bruins locker room.
That was especially so this season, when the Bruins welcomed in a younger line-up including skilled 19-year-old draftee Tyler Seguin and feisty rookie Brad Marchand.
Clearly, Recchi’s leadership went a long way in bringing the Bruins to where they stand today.
“He’s been good for us, we understand he’s not the youngest player in the league, but his experience and what he brings to the table day in and day out is something this team rally needs," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "He’s been extremely good in the dressing room.
“The one thing you will never question about him is his work ethic and at this time of year those guys becomes extremely important."
The veteran NHLer's leadership became even more important when Patrice Bergeron, the centerman on Recchi’s line, suffered a mild concussion during Game 4 of Boston’s second round playoff series against the Philadelphia Flyers.
With Bergeron likely unavailable for the beginning of the Eastern Conference Finals with Tampa Bay, forward Chris Kelly will slide up to Boston’s second line in Bergeron’s place.
“It will be an easy adjustment,” Recchi said of playing alongside Kelly. “He’s a solid player, he’ s a great guy and he’s a leader in the dressing room.”
“It doesn’t change anything on our line. Chris is a very smart player, a two-way player like Bergy is.”
Bergeron’s possible absence in the line-up with leave space for Seguin to make his postseason debut.
“This is a great opportunity for a young guy to step in and get his first taste of it,” said Recchi.
Recchi began his NHL career before Seguin was born and the age difference between the two professionals has only aided the mentor/mentee relationship.
“In juniors, I think he was just so darn good he could get away with skill. He learned to compete every night. He learned to be a pro,” Recchi said.
“This is another level and he’s ready for it.”
One aspect of the Tampa Bay series that Seguin (who will skate on the right-wing alongside center Rich Peverley and winger Michael Ryder, making up the B’s third trio) will have to be ready for is the defensive responsibilities of containing the Lightning’s ‘Big Three.’
Forwards Steven Stamkos, Martin St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier provide star power on Tampa Bay's top lines, but are bolstered by quality performers like Steven Downie, Nate Thompson and Simon Gagne (who is likely to return from his own head injury to begin the series).
“They are skilled guys, you have to take time and space away from them. You have to make it hard for them,” Recchi said of Tampa’s forwards. “You have to be in their faces you have to play hard, you have to play the right way. If you do that then it makes it a lot harder.”
“When you are that good a player you are going to create some kind of offense at some point. You just have to make sure it’s at a minimum.”
For now though, Recchi is taking the time off between series to heal his body and prepare physically and mentally for Boston’s first Conference Finals appearance since 1992.
“It’s two days away now,” said Recchi. " You wake up and it’s exciting.
“It’s a special time of year and you want to make the best of it.”