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Recchi Reflects on First Stanley Cup

by Michelle Crechiolo / Pittsburgh Penguins
The sentiment echoed around the Penguins’ Alumni Charity Golf Classic presented by 84 Lumber this past week was that many of those in attendance looked like they could still play.

That couldn’t be truer in Mark Recchi’s case, as he just won the 2011 Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins.

Mark Recchi during the 1990-91 season with Pittsburgh. (Credit: Getty Images)
It’s been a wonderful summer for the 43-year-old Recchi, who announced his retirement after 22 NHL seasons in the post-game celebration following the Bruins’ Game 7 win over Vancouver.

He recently had his day with Lord Stanley’s chalice, taking it to his hometown of Kamloops, BC. He brought it to the local hospital that he serves as an ambassador for in order to raise money for the intensive care ward there.

The players' Cup celebrations have certainly changed in the 20 years since Recchi won with Pittsburgh in 1991, as a wide-eyed 22-year-old kid in his second season in the league.

“The first time around was a lot different than it is now,” Recchi smiled. “I had it for like half a day and I brought it out to the Pittsburgh Field Club back then. It was real short. But we had fun with it prior to that with the whole team for 2, 3, 4 nights. Then you got the chance to get it.”

Recchi paused from enjoying his final Cup to remember his first one by attending the Penguins’ 20th anniversary celebration, which took place earlier this week.

Even with his busy summer and all the time that’s passed since bringing the Penguins franchise its first Cup, Recchi wouldn’t have missed the event for anything.

“When you have teams like that – when you win championships – it’s for a reason,” Recchi said. “It’s because you are close, you do what it takes to win and you have a great group of guys. When you have stuff like this, guys are going to commit to it. That’s just the way it’s always been.”

That 1990-91 Penguins team was filled with players who are now in the Hockey Hall of Fame after illustrious careers – Mario Lemieux, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier, Joe Mullen, Paul Coffey and Larry Murphy.

Recchi, who later returned to spend parts of three seasons with Pittsburgh from 2005-08, reflected on the impact those players had on him during his first stint with the Penguins.

Trottier, who won his fifth Stanley Cup that year after winning four with the New York Islanders from 1980-83, and Mullen, a three-time Stanley Cup champion who became the first U.S.-born player to score 500 goals, especially mentored the young Recchi throughout the year.

Mark Recchi raising the Stanley Cup after Boston defeated Vancouver, 4-0, in Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. (Credit: Getty Images)
Recchi’s locker stall was sandwiched between Trottier and Mullen, and he absorbed as much as he could from the two veterans who, at the time, had a combined 25 seasons of NHL experience between them.

“They had a huge impact on me, ‘Trots’ and Joey Mullen,” Recchi said. “Every day, it was a pleasure to be in between them and learn and talk to them. Joey was unbelievable with me. Trots made me late half the time for practice because we were talking. But I was going to soak it all in.

“You can’t replace the value of surrounding young kids with the right people.”

Recchi, who went on to produce a total of 1,533 points in 1,652 career games, undertook the same role in Boston with his young teammates these past two seasons.

The Bruins’ top-three playoff scorers during their Cup run – David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brad Marchand – are 25, 23 and 23, respectively.

Recchi embraced the role that was required of him, to be willing to mentor those young kids as they grew into their own as players – and he fulfilled it as thoroughly as his Penguins teammates did 20 years ago.

“You help them through,” Recchi said.

He knows it’s a role that must be wholeheartedly embraced in order to be effective, and is grateful for men like Trottier and Mullen for doing so with him.

“Those guys have to be willing to accept it,” Recchi said. “They have to be willing to pass on experience and their thoughts. When you get the right people like that, it’s invaluable. It’s invaluable to an organization and a necessity, really, to be honest with you. I don’t think you can have enough people like that.”

But that’s not to say Recchi wasn’t an impactful player on the ice as well as in the locker room. Some things don’t change.

After carrying the Penguins through the 1990-91 regular season in the absence of injured captain Mario Lemieux by scoring a team-leading 40 goals and 113 points, Recchi netted 34 points (10G-24A) through 24 postseason contests en route to that 1991 Cup.

Twenty years later, Recchi still had a huge impact on his team’s championship aspirations.

He chipped in 14 points through 25 games during the Bruins’ Cup run, with three of his five goals coming in the Final.

“Being successful early in your career and then being successful in your last year is amazing,” Recchi said. “It’s a great thing.”
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