By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com Staff Reporter Follow @dannypicard
BOSTON --If you walked into the Bruins dressing room on Thursdaynight, youd notice Mark Recchis equipment hanging underneath the nameplate ofhis cubby, in its usual spot.
But Recchi wont be playing another NHL game. It was nothingmore than a sign of respect and admiration the Bruins organization holds forthe veteran leader, who helped them raise their sixth Stanley Cup championshipbanner.
Before that banner was raised, Recchi suited up with histeammates one last time and took part in the pregame festivities, whichincluded one final hoisting of the Cup, as well as a surprise gift which wasthrown Recchis way.
Several days before Thursdays season opener, a few Bruinsplayers thought it would be a good idea to give Recchi one more parting gift.They felt they owed it to him.
So just before the 2011 championship banner was raised,Andrew Ference skated to the podium, and from one assistant captain toanother presented him with the teams vintage player of the game jacket,which the Bs busted out last season.
It was originally purchased on eBay by Ference, and it wasput to good use.
On Thursday night, it was handed off to its rightful owner,and the Bruins couldnt be happier to give it to him.
The guys who set it up asked me if they thought it was a good ideaor not, said Ference after Bostons 2-1 season-opening loss to thePhiladelphia Flyers. I thought it was an awesome idea. It was so short a time period, we gotto keep it under wraps. We didnt have to tell anybody. I think there wereabout four people that knew it was happening.
Its tough to find a way to correctly honor a guy with acareer like that, added Ference. We all know hes going to get to the Hall ofFame, and the stuff like that. But I think something from the players means alot to a guy like that.
Hes extremely respected in this room, and around theleague, so any way to show our respect for him is something that we jump on forsure and were honored to do.
Recchi spoke during the first intermission, and said he wassurprised and choked up by the unexpected gift. He also said the jacketwill be placed in a case somewhere in the Bs dressing room, and he wont keepit for himself.
Thursday night was a special moment for every Bruins playerwho was a member of last seasons Stanley Cup run, but everybody in the roomknows how special Recchi was to that team. And on Thursday, they gave him onefinal sendoff.
It was only fitting that Ference was a major part of thatsendoff. Not because he presented Recchi with the jacket, but also becausehell be replacing Recchi as the co-assistant captain (him and Chris Kelly willsplit the title).
And presenting Recchi with the jacket was extra special toFerence.
He brought it, every day, said Ference. Thats the key toany good job or any good career, is to enjoy what youre doing. He truly lovedthe game, and in the course of actually playing, the determination that heshowed. Sometimes you wouldnt even realize it until you watch the highlights,just how hard he was working in the corners and battling and skating for thepuck.
He played beyond his age. He played like a little kid outthere, just with everything he had.
The Bruins lose a whole lot of leadership in Recchi thisseason. But they hope his presence has helped others like Ference learnfrom that leadership, and pick up where he left off.
We strive to live up to the bar that he sets, saidFerence. I mean, thats what leaders do. They set a standard, and put the barout there, and challenge everybody else to try to get where theyre at.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.