After signing with the Lightning recently, veteran winger Mark Recchi spoke with TBL.com correspondent Melanie Formentin about his All-Star career, two Stanley Cups and the street named in his honor in Kamloops, British Columbia.
TBL.com:You’ve won two Stanley Cups and are a seven-time All-Star, what do you hope to bring to the Lightning this season?
Mark Recchi (MR): Well, I’d like to obviously bring some leadership and really anything they want me to do. Whether it’s penalty killing, playing physical, playing the power play, whatever. I’ll do whatever they need at this point in my career. I’m just excited about the opportunity to come down here and be a piece of this puzzle.
TBL.com: As you skate into your 20th NHL season, how do you feel your game has changed as you’ve moved along in your career?
MR: Obviously I’m not the player I was five, six, seven years ago. I understand that, but I still know and still understand the importance of what a role is in a hockey club, and understand what it takes. I can still skate with everybody which, in the game now, is important. I can keep up and I can still make plays and score some goals. I can do a little bit of everything, which I think is important, and I think that the bottom line is that Vincent is the guy on this team, and we’re coming in to help him and him with the process of being a leader and help him any way we can.
TBL.com: You’ve played with a lot of star players during your career, including Mario Lemieux. How do you feel playing with Vinny Lecavalier might compare to playing with some of the Hall of Fame players you’ve been on teams with?
MR: Well, I’ve watched him, and of course I’ve played against him a lot, and he’s a hard player to play against. He’s a dynamic player offensively, a great two-way center. From what I understand, because I don’t know him personally, he’s an unbelievable guy. When you have that in a superstar, it makes it so much easier. The team runs a lot smoother when your superstar is a great person, and I’m looking forward to the getting the opportunity to play beside him, and watch him and help him out.
TBL.com: What made you want to come to Tampa?
MR: I just like what they (the Lightning) were doing. Obviously everybody in the hockey world was watching what they were doing, and when I got the call that they wanted me to be a piece of it, I got really excited. Obviously, the character guys they brought down here was important to me. They want to be good, they’re doing the right things here with the organization, and they’re trying to make it tough.
TBL.com: Have you ever seen anything like this in your career, or been a part of something like this, where there’s just so much change?
MR: No, and it’s amazing. They have an identity of a team they want and they went out and got it. Give the ownership, management and coaching staff a lot of credit. They identified the type of team they want to be and they went out and got it. And now it’s up to the players to go do their thing.
TBL.com: What are you most looking forward to about playing in Tampa?
MR: I’m looking forward to just having fun, and being a part of something good. It’s something I’m really looking forward to. We’re all pieces of a little puzzle, and we want to be successful and we want to do whatever it takes to help things along.
TBL.com: You were born in Kamloops, British Columbia and played major junior hockey with the Kamloops Blazers, now you’re part owner of that team, when did that happen?
MR: It happened last year at this time. We ended up finally getting it in October, but it happened right about this time that we ended up getting it.
TBL.com: That must be really special to be actively involved with a team you have such a history with.
MR: Yeah, it’s amazing! I have four great partners, three of them are ex players, and the business partner we have is awesome. We’ve had a lot of fun with it, it’s been a lot of work, but we’ve finally got a general manager and a coach, so now we can be owners!
TBL.com: I hear you even have a street named after you in Kamploops called Mark Recchi Way?
MR: Yeah, it’s my hometown, and it’s right where the arena is. My grandfather actually lived on that street, and we still have a house there – my brother lives there now.
TBL.com: You’ve worn the No. 8 your entire career, and even had it retired by the Blazers – how did that number come up and what has made you stick with that number your whole career?
MR: I was just young, and I always wanted an 8 in it for some reason. I always did. It just happened that I was 28 in the minors, because a veteran had 8. I was 18 in Carolina, because Matt Cullen had 8. There was only one time, in Philadelphia, where I had to be 11. I was 11 when I got traded there, for a couple of months, but the player ended up getting traded in the summer so I got my number back. It worked out well!
TBL.com: In January, 2007, you scored your 500th goal – what would you say has been your favorite accomplishment in your career?
MR: Well, the two Stanley Cups are my greatest accomplishments. They were both amazing to me. But 500 goals, 1,000 points - obviously those are great things. The amount of games I’ve played I think it’s big. Knock on wood; I haven’t missed many games in my career, so I’ve played a lot of games.
TBL.com: It’s my understanding that you might be close to having the record for longest time between winning two Cups…
MR: (laughs) No, no – (Chris) Chelios! He’s number one, I think.
TBL.com: (laughs) Well, with 15 years between Cups, how were those two teams different for you?
MR: Well, they were definitely two different teams. Pittsburgh, I grew up with them, I grew up with the guys, and all of a sudden we were successful and going through a playoff run. But obviously when you have Mario Lemieux, and Ron Francis, Kevin Stevens, and Bryan Trottier – that was pretty dynamic. I went to Carolina and I was a veteran. I was able to enjoy the second one… well, I should say appreciate, I shouldn’t say enjoy it because I enjoyed both of them! I appreciated it a little bit more, my second one. Being brought in to be a piece of the puzzle late in the season and fitting in, having a great time down there with the guys, and being able to win it; that was pretty awesome.
TBL.com: What is your favorite hobby outside of hockey?
MR: I don’t really know. I like to read, but there are tons of other hobbies with sports. I probably could say I play golf, but I don’t play golf much anymore because of my kids. I still like to play tennis, just things like that.
TBL.com: Do you have any game-day routines, or even superstitions?
MR: Not a lot. Timing is probably the biggest thing for me, because I like to do things at certain times. Maybe two or three things, like when I tie my skates before we go out, just little things like that. I wouldn’t have survived to play if I had that many quirks in 20 years!
TBL.com: What have some of your nicknames been during your career? I know one is “Recchin’ ball,” from your style of play.
MR: Yeah, that was started in Pittsburgh. My teammates have called me “Sherman,” they’ve called me “Knuckles,” they’ve called me “Rex.” I’ve got a lot.
TBL.com: Thank you so much for your time, and it’s been a pleasure talking to you. Welcome to Tampa!