When you hear the name Mark Recchi, you think of the 10 seasons he spent with the Philadelphia Flyers. You think of the three championships he won with the Pittsburgh Penguins (1991), Carolina Hurricanes (2006), and the Boston Bruins (2011).
He’s one of the few NHL players to claim the Stanley Cup in three separate decades. From his poise to his professionalism, from his leadership to his winning ways, everything about Recchi screams champion.
Recchi’s Trade to the Bruins
By the time Recchi made his way to the Bruins at the 2008-09 trade deadline, he was already 41 years old. Paired with a 2010 second-round pick, the veteran was traded by the Tampa Bay Lightning for Boston’s Martin Karsums and Matt Lashoff at the trade deadline.
Recchi already had 1,472 regular-season games and 1,426 points under his belt. He had also accumulated 140 postseason appearances in which he tallied 117 points. At the time, the Bruins were the top team in the Eastern Conference looking for their first Stanely Cup since 1972. They believed Recchi would give them a huge boost towards their ultimate goal.
During his 18 games with Boston at the tail end of the 2008-09 campaign, the British Columbian put up 10 goals and six assists. In the playoffs, he managed six points in 10 games. The Bruins fell short of the Cup that season, but Recchi went on to make a much bigger impact on Boston – an impact far greater than his individual statistics.
Recchi Mentors Bergeron
When Recchi arrived in Boston, a promising centerman was recovering from a gruesome concussion that sidelined him for most of the 2007-08 campaign. After potting 70 points in 77 games during the season prior to the injury, this forward tallied just 39 points in 63 games.
That 23-year-old went on to become a four-time Selke winner and Stanley Cup champion. He has become a household name across New England – and his name is Patrice Bergeron.
It’s safe to say that Bergeron looked up to his new linemate. “He had a career that I wanted to emulate,” said the Quebec native in the Player’s Tribune. During the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire said that the two players have a “father-son relationship” and it’s a point that is hard to argue.
During Recchi’s first full campaign with the Bruins in 2009-10, Bergeron shimmied his way into Selke contention. He finished in fifth place for the honor that season and in fourth place the following season. After winning the award for his performance throughout the 2011-12 campaign, Bergeron has been a Selke finalist in every season since.
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There is a clear correlation between Recchi joining the team and Bergeron upping his game. While he wasn’t achieving 70-plus point totals like his second and third NHL seasons, he was a more complete player. That was up until this past season during which the centerman tallied a career-high 79 points in just 65 games.
Bergeron was not only inspired by Recchi’s two-way game, but also his toughness and willingness to win. During the 2013 Stanley Cup Final against the Chicago Blackhawks, Bergeron was banged up, to say the least. The then 27-year-old had suffered a cracked rib, torn cartilage, separated shoulder, and a punctured lung. Despite the excruciating pain he was enduring, and with the Bruins on the brink of elimination, the forward played Game 6.
His willingness to lay his body (or at least, what was left of it) on the line was largely due to Recchi’s inspiration. During their second-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009, “Mark was sick. Like really sick. He had kidney stones, and he couldn’t stop throwing up,” Bergeron recounted in the Player’s Tribune. “I watched him struggle just to sit upright.”
But the veteran was not willing to become a spectator. “I could hardly believe what I was watching. This guy who had been in agony just moments before was out there beating people to pucks and finishing checks,” said Bergeron. “He was leaving it all out there, even when it seemed like he had nothing more to give.”
Recchi Leaves His Mark
It wasn’t just Bergeron who looked up to Recchi. Brad Marchand, who also played alongside Bergeron and the veteran, was struggling during Boston’s 2013 playoff run. During their second-round series against the New York Rangers, he received some advice from his former teammate.
“He just texted me and told me to play my game and not to worry about anything else,” said Marchand to the media. “He’s obviously a guy that I went through a lot when I played with him, and it was good to hear from him again.”
Taking Recchi’s advice to heart, Marchand scored the game-winning overtime goal in Game 5 to hand the Bruins a 3-2 series lead. “He didn’t have to reach out to me and give me those words of wisdom,” he said. “But the fact he still cares enough to send that message shows how great of a guy he is and what a good teammate he was.”
In Games 2 and 3 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, Recchi potted three goals. During must-win Games 6 and 7, he tallied four assists. Between his direct impact on the ice and the fire he lit under his teammates, the Bruins likely wouldn’t have brought home the Stanley Cup without Recchi.
The veteran scored 42 goals and 65 assists in 180 regular-season games in Boston. He tacked on 14 goals and 16 assists in 49 postseason games with the team. Following his third Stanley Cup title, Recchi hung up his skates for good. However, he has never left the minds of his former teammates in Boston.
“[He] showed me what playoff hockey was really about — the sacrifices that need to be made,” said Bergeron of playing through injuries. “It wasn’t about appearing tough or anything like that…I was just following the lead of Recchi and so many of the guys before him who I’d looked up to.”
I cover the Boston Bruins and NCAA Hockey here at The Hockey Writers. Born and raised 10 miles north of Boston, I developed a love for the game of ice hockey at a very young age. There’s really nothing better than this sport, though steak is a close second.