KELOWNA, B.C. -
Three-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Recchi
is having a blast serving as one of the coaches at the 2012 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.
Recchi will lead Team Cherry when it takes the ice Wednesday for the Top Prospects Game (10 p.m. ET, NHLN-US, Sportsnet).
"You could tell just by how he is around the guys in the locker room that he's a former hockey player," Brendan Gaunce
of the Belleville Bulls told NHL.com. "He took out his three Stanley Cup rings and what a sight that was. Each of those rings takes up your whole finger. I thought the ring I won as a ninth-grader playing football in the Metro Bowl was pretty big, but that had one stone and those Stanley Cup rings had something like 25 stones … I've never seen anything like it."
"They looked like they weighed 30 pounds each," added defenseman Ryan Murray
of the Everett Silvertips.
Recchi played his junior hockey about 2 1/2 hours northwest of Kelowna for the rival Kamloops Blazers, and couldn't pass up an opportunity to return back to his junior roots.
"Bruce Hamilton (Kelowna owner/GM) asked me if I was interested and I said absolutely," Recchi told NHL.com.
Recchi took some time to talk with NHL.com regarding his life as a retired hockey player and having the opportunity to coach opposite Pat Quinn
NHL.com: Are there any players that really jump out at you at this event?
Matt Dumba and Ryan Murray
are the two defensemen that really stand out to me. I haven't seen the other group really except during the 3-on-3 game and the skills competition. But on our side, (Brendan) Gaunce is really impressive and, I'll admit it, I'm biased because Tim Bozon
plays for Kamloops. I think all the kids have done really well, but the defensemen really stand out.
NHL.com: Have you noticed any difference in the caliber of player entering the League today as compared to when you were drafted in 1988?
We had great players, too. I wasn't drafted until I was 19 (in 1988), but really, you look at some of the guys drafted during my time, like Joe Sakic
, Mike Modano
… you look at the type of players to come out of that class, it was pretty special. Guys like Jeremy Roenick
and Teemu Selanne
; that year was pretty special. Certainly, there are certain years that are leaner than others, but I think the skill level has always been the same. Today's players have better access to nutrition and personal trainers -- and we didn't have any of that stuff. That gives them a little bit of a bonus, but we didn't grow up in the social-media era, either, and that could have had an effect positively or negatively.
NHL.com: What's the best advice you could give any promising prospect looking to reach the NHL?
The biggest thing we've talked about is don't try to do anything more than what you're capable. Play to what makes you successful as a player, and don't try to overdo things. Play your game and have fun with it. This is a great stage, but if you try and overdo it, you will fall flat. You have to play to what has gotten you to this point. If you do those things, you'll be fine out there.
NHL.com: What most impresses you about prospects Mathew Dumba and Ryan Murray?
I like their excitement for the game and their composure. Murray reminds me a little bit of Ray Bourque
. He has that Ray Bourque
look to me; real composed and strong. He skates a lot like him, too. I was trying to pinpoint who he reminded me of and I finally figured it out. Dumba is a big kid who can skate and loves being out there. Everything is full steam ahead. You can tell he loves being out there and his excitement for the game is there.
NHL.com: Have you enjoyed retirement?
I've enjoyed it; I haven't done much. I still watch games every night and look at the stats every day, but other than that it's been good. I'm just taking a break, getting away from it a little bit and playing with my kids and hanging out. I've got time, and the good thing about it is I don't have to be in a hurry right now.
NHL.com: Do you like where the game is right now?
I think it's good. There are always things you can tweak, but for the most part the game is good and the players are great. There are a lot of great teams.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale