Replacing the irreplaceable: Recchi retires

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Replacing the irreplaceable: Recchi retires

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

BOSTON Mark Recchi isnt walking back through that door.

The 43-year-old has called it a career after 23 years, including portions of three seasons with the Boston Bruins that culminated with his third Stanley Cup. Recchi was according to teammate Andrew Ference thinking of commemorating his Cup victory with a tattoo depicting each of his three Stanley Cups (with the Penguins, Hurricanes and Bruins).

Some, like Patrice Bergeron upon who the future Hall of Fame winger has had a profound impact -- spoke wistfully of Recchis departure from Boston and the void he'll leave. Recchi will also decide what will happen to the 1980s Bruins-style Starter jacket after Gregory Campbell awarded it to the retiring veteran following the Game 7 victory against the Canucks a series where Recchi (seven points) outscored Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler combined throughout the series.

Ference was the Bs player who came up with the idea for the jacket and felt like Recchis decision to go out on top should be celebrated rather than mourned over.

I guess weve been prepared for it . . . Hes been saying all year that if we won the Cup then hes done, Ference said. I dont feel sad about it all. I feel so happy that he was able to set a goal like that and actually achieve it and be part of a team that could do it with him is great.

What more could he do in his career? Hes done it all and hes seen it all, and hes going out on a high note. You miss having him around and him being on the team, but it feels different than a guy being traded or something like that. Youre just happy for the guy.

Recchi wasnt wavering on his decision over the last few days after winning the Cup, and hes often spoke of his desire to join an NHL teams management group with an eye toward being a general manager someday. That shouldnt shock anyone whos seen the way Recchi gets involved in the Kamloops junior hockey team he partially owns, or knows how general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien have both consulted during his time in Boston.

The biggest question is how the Bruins replace the experience and wisdom that Recchi provided in the Bruins dressing room. The 43-year-old was a calming influence when things were getting chaotic out on the ice, a stern voice willing to give a kick to the pants when he felt the team needed it, and a teammate with the first reassuring words when a player was battling with his confidence.

Thats not easy to replicate. On the ice the Bruins might actually have some ideas on filling Recchis spot, and Bs fans might have caught a glimpse of that when Rich Peverley stepped in with Bergeron and Brad Marchand to spell the 43-year-old at points during the Tampa Bay series. Peverleys speed and offensive moves would be a nice fit alongside Marchand and Bergeron, and would clearly make the trio a speedier option for Julien.

But inside the room is where Recchi will be missed most of all, and it doesnt appear the Bruins will try to find another graybeard-type to fill those shoes for next season. Instead the Bruins will have to put faith in the belief that leaders like Bergeron, Ference, Zdeno Chara and Chris Kelly can lead a young team that appears to be set up for multiple runs at the Cup over the next five seasons.

The change in Chara -- who was stoic and hesitant to connect with teammates when he arrived in Boston -- since Recchi joined the Bruins has been amazing to watch. Hes learned how to open up to his fellow players on a much more human level, and leads with the kind of selflessness that any good captain must have.

Now he'll head a committee of leadership that will carry on the Recchi tradition.

In any position whether its as a captain or anything else you learn and you grow when youre in that position or role, Chara said. Im just trying to be there for my team no matter what, and for my guys. No matter what it is. Rather than thinking of myself, I think about what its going to do for my team and for the rest of the 25 guys.

I have to always think ahead and wonder about decisions that are going to be made or not. Ive been very privileged to have guys around me that I can lean on and ask their opinions. Its so important to make decisions as a group rather than individually.

"Obviously Mark Recchi was here, Patrice, Andrew Ference. And Chris Kelly has been a great addition. Its really a lot of fun and easy guys to work with. Its something I take a lot of pride in leading this team. I had a mission when I signed here five years ago to take this team to the top, and Im just so happy that we were able to accomplish that.

While Recchi might be absent from the room when camp opens in September, his influence will long live on as the Bruins carry on with the lessons they learned from the 43-year-old master.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.