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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins

The Recchin’ Ball is going to hit Mellon Arena this season. Instead of crushing the building, he’s going to demolish goaltenders.

Mark Recchi is back in a Penguins uniform for the first time since 1992. He’s ready to help bring the Stanley Cup back to Pittsburgh.

“It’s great,” he said. “I am very excited.”

The Penguins have welcomed a cavalcade of new faces this year. However, Recchi signed with the team last July, but did not get the chance to play as the NHL lockout wiped out the season. However, since the Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed this July, Recchi has been a catalyst in drawing players to come to Pittsburgh with some recruitment phone calls. While General Manager Craig Patrick and captain/owner Mario Lemieux scored goals with their offseason work, Recchi certainly gets an assist.

“They want to win a championship again. It’s exciting times for me and them, too,” Recchi said. “Unfortunately, with the way the economic system was before, it was very hard for them to compete. They knew that they probably had to hit rock bottom in order to win a championship again. A lot of teams will try to stay mediocre and be happy with that. Not Craig and Mario and the ownership here. They knew they had to hit the bottom to get to the top again and they did the right things and the timing couldn’t be better.”

Free agents Sergei Gonchar, Ziggy Palffy, John LeClair, Ryan VandenBussche and Steve Poapst as well as Sidney Crosby (draft) and Jocleyn Thibault (trade) joined the Penguins in the past year. Recchi’s return preceded them all and he watched the team morph from a last-place team into a Stanley Cup contender since last July.

“It’s great. I knew it was going to happen, but for it happen this quick is pretty neat,” Recchi said. “We’re all looking forward to it. Training camp can’t come quick enough for us. There’s a lot of excitement. People in Pittsburgh deserve to be rewarded for the way they treat their sports players. I am looking forward to it.”

Recchi is not only impressed with the big names the Penguins have acquired, but the diversity of talents they bring to the club.

“It’s great. We don’t win without four lines. You need a lot of depth,” Recchi said. “I am very excited about playing with these guys and getting opportunities and having a lot of fun. We’re going to be a real exciting team to watch.”

Recchi is looking forward to skating with LeClair, his teammate in Philadelphia for six seasons.

“It’s awesome. He is a great guy; he is going to be a terrific guy in the dressing room for a lot of our younger players,” Recchi said. “If the rules are enforced the way they’re supposed to, he is going to be a terrific force. We don’t expect him to come in and be a savior, but we expect him to be part of a real good hockey team and he will be. I am really excited to see him come here.”

Recchi, 37, is ready to do anything to help Pittsburgh win its third Stanley Cup. He was part of the team’s first championship in 1991 and appeared headed for a second ring in 1992. However, he was part of the Feb. 19 trade with the Flyers that brought Rick Tocchet, Kjell Samuelsson and Ken Wregget to the Penguins.

“I am going to do whatever Coach Edzo asks of me – whatever it takes,” Recchi said. “I just want to win again and that’s all that really matters to me.”

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