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by Staff Writer / Pittsburgh Penguins
The Recchin' Ball will fly once again inside Mellon Arena this season. Popular right winger Mark Recchi signed a one-year contract with the Penguins on Tuesday. Recchi played in 63 games with the team last season before he was sent to Carolina on the NHL trade deadline. Thus, this is his third return to Pittsburgh. "It's awesome to be back," he said. "You see the pieces of the puzzle are falling into place. I just want to be a part of helping these young guys and I want to be a part of helping this organization. That's why I am here." Recchi began his career in Pittsburgh and won a Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991. He was dealt to Philadelphia in 1992 before he had the chance to capture another Stanley Cup ring. After signing with the Penguins in 2004, Recchi collected his Stanley Cup title when Pittsburgh dealt him to Carolina, which claimed the championship in 2006. "[Being traded to Carolina] was something a couple years ago that I'd never expect to happen. It worked out, though," he said. "It worked out for the team where they got a draft pick and were able to pick up [Nils] Ekman [from the Sharks]. Turns out, the team got a pretty good player and I get to come back." Even though the Penguins struggled to gain ground in the standings last season, Recchi knows the future remains bright in Pittsburgh. "Two years ago, I made the decision to come back and help. That's what keeps bringing me back," he said. "I see all the young players that we have. There are so many nice pieces. I want to help them out and help them get to the next level and be part of it. There's still some work to do and I want to be part of that. I just don't want to play one year. I want to try to play a couple more years. Hopefully, I can play well enough I can get the opportunity to maybe come back and play another year after this. "My heart is here and I love it. I want to be able to bring some excitement back to this place." The Penguins went from a veteran-laden team to a young squad last season. Even though the team remains very youthful, Recchi is certain he and the other veterans will fit in well. "We've talked and I have seen the young guys and there are no problems at all. They are all great kids," he said. "We had a very young team at the end [of last season]. The older players were trying to stay positive. It was a big change and we knew we had to stay positive. I don't think there were any issues. I am trying to help these young guys out and help them get through things. They know I am here to help them." Recchi produced 24 goals and 33 assists with the Penguins and added four goals and three assists in 20 games with the Hurricanes. Overall, it was another solid season in the productive veteran's career: 28 goals and 36 assists for 64 points. He was productive in the postseason, too. Recchi racked up 16 points (7+9) in 25 playoff games for Carolina. He was especially clutch in the Stanley Cup Finals against Edmonton. He averaged nearly a point per game as he posted six points (2+4) in the seven-game series. Also, he had the game-winning goal in a 2-1 Game 4 win over the Oilers that put Carolina up, 3-1, in the series. "I still expect to be a good player for this hockey club and I still expect to do whatever it takes for this hockey team to get to the level where it has to be. If that's being a leader; being positive; helping young guys go through some tough situations if they are going through it; being there for them - whatever it takes," he said. "I still expect to be a good hockey player for this hockey club and a guy the coaching staff and the management is going to expect to be a consistent player every night and know that I am committed to helping this team and I will be there every night for them. You might not always play your best, but they know that I will play 100 percent every day and I will play through stuff and I think that's important for young guys to see."
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