Mark Recchi isnt out of his mind, and he certainly isnt a stupid man.
The 43-year-old future Hall of Famer holds purpose to his words at all times and has a knack of saying exactly what his team needs to hear when it needs to hear it. Its a time-honed skill somebody attains after spending decades in NHL dressing rooms, and has developed a clear understanding of the natural rhythms of a season.
So when the 20-year NHL veteran spoke to CSNNE.com contributor Mike Felger on his 98.5 the Sports Hub radio show Wednesday, he had to know what he was doing.
Recchi agreed with Felgers assertion that perhaps the Canadiens embellished Max Paciorettys health situation a little bit while desperately trying to lobby for a Zdeno Chara suspension.
Hes okay and hes getting better, Recchi said. I mean, we know Pacioretty was at a movie, I mean he wasTweeting at a movie five days later. You know, obviously, if you have abad concussion like this, youre not going to be at a movie. So wereglad in that sense that hes getting better, but it was a hockey playand the injury happened.
The Bs veteran was then presentedwith Felger's long-stated theory that the Habs have embellished injuries for calls inthe past, and the question as to whether there was some overstatement of Paciorettys severe concussion by Montreals hockey club.
Well,I mean, he does have a fractured vertebra, but the concussion wasreally a non-factor. Maybe a day he felt it and then he was fine acouple days later, said Recchi. I believe, yeah, they were trying toget Zdeno suspended and they embellished it a little bit. I guess interms of that side, you have to look at it and I guess they were tryingto do what they could to get him suspended.
Sure, Felger can be convincing, making outlandish declarations sound like common sense, but even hes not skilled enough at radio interviews to trap a wily veteran like Recchi into saying something he doesnt want to particularly on the eve of the biggest game of the season for both clubs.
Theres no question the Habs had motive to trump up Paciorettys injuries, given the sliver of points that separate the Bruins and Canadiens in the standings, but as to whether or not they actually did it, well, thats a strong accusation.
Its even stronger still when its acknowledged Pacioretty fractured a vertebra in his neck, and was knocked out cold on the ice after Chara ran him into the Bell Centre stanchion.
But Recchi believes there might have been some gamesmanship going on by the Montreal franchise to get Bostons irreplaceable stalwart defenseman out of the lineup.
Later, Milan Lucic appeared on the same radio station and had similar sentiments when asked about Paciorettys miraculous recovery from a Grade 3 concussion and talked about the personal experiences hes had with Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard and the severe concussions that kept them literally in the dark for months at a time.
I remember it like it was yesterday when Patrice couldnt even get up to open the blinds in his house for two months, said Lucic. If you ask Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby who suffered a concussion right after the first of the year, Im pretty sure hed tell you that he hasnt been able to go to the movies over the last two months.
Both Lucic and Recchi have stressed throughout the last few weeks that the entire Bruins organization was glad to hear Pacioretty was going to fully recover, and it seemed this embellishment had more to do with the organization than the individual player.
So what could be possibly have been gained by Recchi and Lucic taking the bait with talk of Paciorettys concussion?
How about a leadership move by a couple of big personalities within the Bs dressing room capable of taking some of the considerable media heat off Chara and instead putting it on themselves with their comments? Chara was staked out by the teeming number of Montreal reporters at an off-day practice on Wednesday, and its pretty clear at this point hes had to deal with more than his share of questions, angry comments and vitriol after the Pacioretty hit.
That media fever pitch would become even worse if the Bruins and Habs engage in a first-round playoff series as seems likely to happen at this point.
If Recchi and Lucic can take some of that withering scrutiny away from Chara with emotions running on both sides and the Bs needing every last bit of menacing intimidation that their 6-foot-9 defenseman can bring to the table then perhaps their goal was accomplished. Chara has been good in the six games since the Pacioretty incident with 2 goals and 5 assists along with a plus-5, but theres only so much one player can handle before cracks start to show.
Recchis comments could also serve as a way to provoke the Canadiens players into a more emotionally charged response Thursday night a plan that backfired on the Habs the last time they were on the Garden ice racking up 187 penalty minutes amid bloody defeat.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman warned both GMs Montreal's Pierre Gautier and Boston's Peter Chiarelli about a repeat of that gong show this time around, but the Bruins know that physicality and intimidation are keys to their success.
We cant lose that edge, said Lucic. Its unfortunate that a guy got hurt on a hockey play that weve seen 1,000 times before. We cant lose that edge, and we still need to play physical.
The Big Bad Bruins have circled the wagons to protect one of their own, regained the swagger they lost somewhere along the way after Pacioretty was wheeled off the Bell Centre ice, and know a clean two-point victory can virtually lock up at least the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Thankfully itll be less about explosive words Thursday night, and all about the two teams colliding one last time on the ice after weeks of hype, harsh accusations and dopey 911 calls.