-- When you sit and chat hockey with Bruins forward Mark Recchi
, you immediately get the feeling he is made to be a GM or maybe a head coach. He speaks and breathes the game and is basically a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the NHL or any league for that matter.
This is why, at 41-years-old, Recchi is once again playing in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"It has been that way since we were kids," said Matt Recchi, Mark's younger brother and the director of player personnel for the junior Kamloops Blazers of the Western Hockey League. "He always tried to learn about his opponent and other players. Just loved to know what he was up against and then approach it the right way."
Kamloops is owned by the Recchi's, Coyotes forward Shane Doan
, Flames forward Jarome Iginla
, and Stars defenseman Darryl Sydor
. Despite being in the grinding madness of the playoffs, Recchi still keeps tabs on the team as they prepare for the upcoming WHL draft and just as he does that, he is already scouting the Stanley Cup Playoffs, trying to prepare for the Bruins' upcoming opponent.
"Yeah, we're in constant touch about the draft and the Blazers, but I know he's already studying the details of every possible team the Bruins could face," Matt said before the Hurricanes earned the right to face the Bruins following their Game 7 victory in New Jersey. "That's just him, he loves the game. He loves playing it, watching it and man does he love to talk about it.
"I can think back to when he was on the Penguins with Kevin Stevens
. He and Kev would be out to dinner with me asking me what I thought of a certain line they had played against or were about to play against. They just loved to study the game and know every little detail about the other team. They also knew about every player in the League. Ask them about some backup goalie and they knew his weakness. It was that in depth!"
Since Recchi came to the Bruins at the trade deadline, he has reinvigorated their power play, become a key cog in the offense and a leader in the dressing room. On the ice, Recchi notched 16 points in 18 games after coming over from Tampa Bay on March 4. He also had four power-play goals and, despite his 5-10, 195-pound frame, established himself as a tip-in threat in front of the net, making his way through the dirty areas and creating havoc in front.
"He's always been that way," said Stevens who is now a pro scout for the Penguins based in Boston. "He figured early on from watching the game and learning that he would have to earn every inch out there and that's what he does. His size never mattered to him. He learned how to work around it."
Recchi likes to think of himself as a student of the game and believes his desire to learn about each team and player keeps him going.
"I've always tried to learn as much as I can about every player," Recchi said. "I try to watch as much as possible, study film, read, whatever I can to get the upper hand. I know a lot of players from being in the League so long. So I know their tendencies but even with the young players, I'll talk to people around the League I know and try to learn as much as I can on them.
"Let's face it; I'm not that young anymore so any edge I can get helps. This League has changed a lot, and there are so many younger players now. So I do my research and try to apply it on the ice when we play."
GM Peter Chiarelli may have found the perfect piece for a playoff run on the ice, but Recchi, a two-time Stanley Cup champion, could have also been employed as a scout during Boston's eight-day layoff between the first and second round. Chances are, Recchi was watching hockey somewhere during the break.
"With that Centre Ice (television package), there is always a game on," Recchi said. "If I have a game that night, I usually try to make it back home or to a restaurant to watch the late game. It's been a little hard since I'm in a hotel right now, but I find a way to watch and if I can't, I make some calls or read up. I'm always watching games and I love it. I'm a fan. I love hockey."