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A Tale of Two Recchi's

The differences in success of both Mark Recchi's tour as a Flyer

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @NHLFlyers / http://www.philadelphiaflyers.com

Many of the best years of Mark Recchi's Hockey Hall of Fame career were spent as a Philadelphia Flyer. He enjoyed two stellar stints as a Flyer after being acquired in trades with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens. Recchi recorded 627 points (232 goals and 395 assists) in 602 regular season games as a Flyer. He dressed in 65 playoff games, all in his second stint, posting 19 goals and 39 points.

"The Flyers are a great organization and I was proud to be part of it," Recchi said in 2012. "I had some outstanding teammates, made a lot of friendships, Mr. Snider was a great owner who cared about winning and the fans treated me very well. There were special memories in Philadelphia for sure." 

"Recchs" himself was a somewhat different player the second time around, too. His two stints with the Flyers were a bit different from one another. The first time around, he was a burgeoning young star coming to a rebuilding franchise that was assembling a new nucleus. Upon his return, he was a veteran player joining a perennial Stanley Cup contender - one that was, somewhat ironically, helped greatly along its way by the return on trading Recchi to Montreal in 1995. 

Below is a look into both of those portions of his career

THE FIRST STINT: A RECORD SETTING FLYER

The Flyers made a blockbuster trade with Pittsburgh on February 19, 1992. Philadelphia gave up team captain Rick Tocchet, stalwart defensive defenseman Kjell Samuelsson and goalie Ken Wregget plus a 1992 third-round pick (used on the selection Dave Roche). In return, the Flyers received Recchi, defenseman Brian Benning and a 1992 first-round pick (used on the selection of defenseman/winger Jason Bowen) originally belonging to the LA Kings.

Recchi, who was a member of Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup winning 1990-91 team and enjoyed his first career 100-point season that year (40 goals, 73 assists, 113 points), had produced 33 goals and 70 points for Pittsburgh in 1991-92 up until the time of the trade to the Flyers. Upon his arrival in Philadelphia, Recchi posted an additional 10 goals and 27 points overall the final 22 games of the season.

During the summer of 1992, the Flyers made arguably the biggest and certainly the most controversial trade in club history as they acquired the rights to teenaged franchise players Eric Lindros from the Quebec Nordiques. The triad of Lindros, Recchi and center Rod Brind'Amour became the Flyers' nucleus.

In 1992-93, primarily playing right wing on a unit with Lindros and Brent Fedyk dubbed "the Crazy Eights" line, Recchi set a team single-season scoring record with 123 points (53 goals, 70 assists) in 84 games and won the Bobby Clarke Trophy as Flyers' most valuable players. His 70 assists were the third-highest single-season total in Flyers' history.

The next year, with rookie Mikael Renberg eventually taking over a top line spot along with Recchi and Lindros, Recchi enjoyed a 40-goal, 107-point season. The Flyers, however, remained on the outside of the playoff picture as their drought of missing the postseason reached five straight seasons.

Following a lockout that forced the cancellation of the first half of the 1994-95 season, the Flyers got off to a slow start in the 48-game schedule that was created after the end of the work stoppage.

On February 9, 1995, the Flyers made another blockbuster trade. 

This time, Philadelphia traded Recchi and a 1995 third-round pick (Martin Hohenberger) to the Montreal Canadiens for forward John LeClair, defenseman Eric Desjardins and forward Gilbert Dionne. Although Recchi remained a fine player during his time with the Canadiens, the trade proved to be a boon to the Flyers. Philadelphia transformed, almost instantly, from a non-playoff team to a Stanley Cup contender.

SECOND STINT: THE VETERAN LEADER

Recchi was eligible for unrestricted free agency after the 1998-99 season. Increasingly pessimistic about the player remaining in Montreal, the Canadiens traded Recchi back to the Flyers on March 10, 1999 in exchange for young forward Dainius Zubrus, a 1999 second-round pick (Matt Carkner) and a 2000 sixth-round pick (Scott Selig) originally belonging to the New York Islanders.

A late-March concussion slowed Recchi for the rest of the season, although he returned to the Flyers' lineup after missing just three games. On May 10, 1999, Recchi signed a five-year contract extension with the Flyers to pre-empt his impending unrestricted free agency.

The 31-year-old player was no longer a 100-point player (keep in mind that scoring was in decline leaguewide) but was a more well-rounded and versatile forward than he was during his first go-round with the club. 

Perhaps the best two-way season of Recchi's Flyers career came in 1999-2000, as he not only compiled 91 points but also posted a Philadelphia career-best plus-20 rating and, at different junctures played left wing and even center in addition to his preferred right wing position. Recchi placed seventh in the NHL's Hart Trophy balloting and earned his second Bobby Clarke Trophy.

During the latter portion of Recchi's time with the Flyers, he was reunited with his former junior hockey (Kamloops Blazers) head coach, Ken Hitchcock. A third Bobby Clarke Trophy followed in 2003-04 as Recchi posted a team-high 75 points in 82 games for a team that adopted a very defensively conscious style of play. Much of the damage was done on the power play, where Recchi racked up 14 goals. In the playoffs, the Flyers fell just one win shy of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.

Now a well-traveled veteran but still a solid producer, Recchi remained in the NHL for an additional six seasons following the end of his second stint with the Flyers. 

The Flyers never reached the Stanley Cup Final in Recchi's time with the team but they came agonizingly close twice, losing 2-1 decisions in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New Jersey Devils in 2000 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. 

Recchi's single biggest individual playoff moment as a Flyer was his triple-overtime game-winning goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to knot the series at two games apiece. The Flyers eventually won the series in seven games.

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