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Bruins' Recchi not the retiring type

by James Murphy
Mark Recchi is the Boston Bruins' nominee for the Masterton Trophy, the NHL award that honors the player who "best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey."

Pretty appropriate since Recchi still loves coming to the rink, even after 21 seasons.

"If you can't come to the rink and work hard every day -- it's an hour to two hours out of your day -- who wouldn't want to do that?" Recchi said. "It's awesome and it's a privilege to play in the NHL, I love it. Playing the game of hockey, and why not come and work? When you see the guys that have won it that have been through a lot more than I have, then obviously it's a privilege to be mentioned for this award."

Recchi plans on continuing that perseverance as an NHL player next season, but he's not yet sure where he will be doing it. The Bruins have some salary-cap issues to deal with, like signing restricted free agents like Blake Wheeler, Mark Stuart and Johnny Boychuk or possibly unrestricted free agent Dennis Seidenberg, who recently expressed a desire to remain in Boston.

And then there's Recchi.

"I still feel great and it's the end of the season. I'm definitely leaning towards the other way than I'm leaning toward retirement," he said. "We'll see at the end of the year."

"Hopefully when it's all said and done there're some young players that have learned from me and I've made a little bit of an impact somewhere." -- Mark Recchi

"They're handing out contracts left and right these days, so who knows?" he added with a laugh.

With two Stanley Cup rings and plenty of experience, Recchi has taken on the role of a mentor in recent seasons. When he does finally decide to hang them up, Recchi hopes his influence on younger teammates will be part of his legacy.

"Hopefully when it's all said and done there're some young players that have learned from me and I've made a little bit of an impact somewhere," he said.

According to Bruins coach Claude Julien, that's exactly what Recchi has done with the young core of the Bruins.

"We have talked a lot about that this year and rightfully so," Julien said. "He has led us on the ice without a doubt, and obviously his experience in different situations in the dressing room and with our captain and assistants, he has been a good player that way as well. It is hard for young guys to not want to follow when they see a guy that has been around that long lead by example. His work ethic and commitment, I can't say enough about what he has brought to our team this year."

Milan Lucic, who has been seen after many practices working on net-front presence and tip-ins with Recchi, is grateful for the time he has had with the player known around the league as "The Recch-ing Ball" for his tenacity and willingness to go to the net.

"There's no question that he should be up for that award," Lucic said. "He comes to the rink, works hard every day, even though there's a lot of 42-year-olds that don't move like him. But he's great. He's a great leader. As a young guy, he's someone you can look up to and even if you have a question, just to talk about anything, he's there for you all the time. This year when he's moving up the goal ladder, it's been fun to see and when I'm done with my career, it will be cool to say, 'I played with Mark Recchi.'"

At 42, Recchi still enjoys the game the way he did when he broke in with the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1988-89 season and he can't wait to help his team in another Stanley Cup Playoff series.

"I've really enjoyed it and I'd like to think I didn't let too many people down over the years in terms of effort-wise," he said. "I still have a lot of fun and this time of year coming up here is what we ultimately play for and I'm looking forward to it."
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