BOSTON Three short years ago Mark Recchi was wearing a Lightning bolt logo across his chest and skating for a Tampa Bay hockey club long on top-shelf talent, but short on depth and quality wins.
Recchi was productive during his time with the Lightning and he certainly earned a few primary assists in the leadership department with a young scorer like Steven Stamkos in the mix. Recchi and retired forwardfitness guru Gary Roberts both had a profound impact on the young Stamkos, and helped shepherd him along once the Barry Melrose reign of terror finished up with the Bolts.
Recchi recalls his time with the Lightning fondly, and remembers fighting alongside Stamkos, Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier among other Tampa skaters before he was dealt to the Bruins in exchange for Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums during the stretch of the 2008-09 season.
The Lightning were on their way down then when Recchi exited the scene, but Tampa Bay has restructured its management and ownership groups quickly, leading to a deep playoff run.
Its like any team. When there are skilled guys youve got to take time and space away from them, said Recchi of the Lightning players hes well acquainted with. Youve got to be on your toes and youve to get in their faces and make it hard for them. Obviously Stevie Yzerman has done a remarkable job there and they have new ownership. Its been a really good transition and they made some really good moves just stabilizing it. A lot of good things can happen once youre a stable organization. Its great because Tampa is an excellent place to play. Theyve got a good fan base and good crowds, and theyre very set for the future.
Nobody could have predicted at that point how meaningful Recchis time with the Bruins would be, but the future Hall of Famer has filled a huge need for the Black and Gold both on and off the ice. Recchi has 107 points and a plus-14 in his two plus seasons in Boston since the deal, and hes also inspired his teammates by playing through injuries and fighting to get close to the net against much bigger opponents despite his Barney Rubble-sized body.
When we did get him Recchi was more or less classified as a role player, said coach Claude Julien. But I think when he came in and scored quite a few goals when he first showed up to us. He was a real good player for us in the playoffs and a good leader.
Julien pointed to the 2008-09 playoffs as one of the things that really stuck out to the rest of the Bs players, as Recchi somehow played at the tail end of the Carolina series despite passing kidney stones.
To this day, younger players like Milan Lucic marvel at the memory of Recchi throwing up to the extreme pain in the hours leading up to the game, but then somehow breaking through to perform when his team needed him most. The young Bruins didnt win that series against the Hurricanes, but they started to understand what it takes to win.
If you guys remember that Carolina series where we didnt know if he would play Game 6 or not -- and what he went through -- he just showed show much battle and such a great example, said Julien. We felt real comfortable asking him to come back. I think the feeling was mutual. He came back and gave us another real good season last year.
Hes been good for us. We understand hes not the youngest player in the league, but his experience and what he brings to the table day in and day out is something this team really needs. Even this year hes been extremely good in the dressing room. The one thing you will never question about him is his work ethic, and at this time of year those guys become extremely important.
One other thing never to question about Recchi: Hell do absolutely everything possible to make a third Stanley Cup championship happen for the Bruins in the twilight of his amazing NHL career.
Tim Thomas said that hes in the middle of checking down a list of accomplishments hed set out for himself this summer.
Most people would put simple, attainable goals for themselves like losing 10 pounds or building an addition on their house, but the Thomas' list included becoming an All-Star, a Vezina Trophy finalist and, finally, a Stanley Cup champion.
Its amazing that Thomas is getting even close to his heady list of hockey accomplishments.
A lot of the stuff I've accomplished this year are goals that I actually set for myself last summer . . . not exactly to the number, but one goal I did have was to be a Vezina finalist. That's one of the things I thought of last summer, said Thomas. One goal, one dream that I thought a lot about was raising the Stanley Cup over my head. In that way I'm not surprised because they are goals that I made.
But the other side of that coin is you can make goals, but you never know whether you're going to be able to accomplish them.
Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton was asked by the media on Thursday morning to use one word to describe teammate and team pest Brad Marchand. Thorntons response: Short.
Recchi wasnt the biggest fan of the eight-day layoff between the Flyers series and the conference finals against the Lightning, but he really wasnt a fan of a night without playoff hockey on Wednesday night. Its a good thing the highly entertaining Game 7 between San Jose and Detroit was on tap last night.
Its been okay, but Wednesday night kind of sucked. It was a long day. No hockey on and I love to watch it. There are no playoff games on and Im like a lost soul flicking around on the TV. Wednesday was bad, but today was great because you knew theres only two days until you get started again.