BOSTON -- When the Chicago Blackhawks come to town, all eyes are on Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. The defending Stanley Cup duo represents the youth movement in the National Hockey League.
Parents bring their kids to games against Chicago to show them how the game should be played. Players like Kane and Toews are the face of the new NHL.
But on Tuesday night at the TD Garden, all the attention was on the face of the old NHL.
Whether he likes it or not, Mark Recchi is no spring chicken. At 43 years of age, Recchi certainly doesn't represent the league's youth movement. But he does represent one of the league's best role models, and after Tuesday night, he also represents the player who passed Paul Coffey for sole possession of 12th place all-time on the NHL points list, thanks to his second-period assist that helped put the Bruins up two goals in their eventual 3-0 win over the Blackhawks.
Recchi now has 1,532 career points in his 22nd NHL season. He Tuesday's game with a plus-2 rating. The only other Bruins player with that high of a rating was his linemate, Patrice Bergeron, who also finished as a plus-2, and recorded an assist on the B's first goal of the game.
After the game, Bergeron sat in front of his locker, in awe of his veteran winger's most recent accomplishment.
"It's unbelievable, if you think about it," said Bergeron. "It's big names that he's passing there. It's crazy how many points it is. I'm just happy to be on the ice with him, and to have a chance to enjoy something like that, I don't think I'll be there for that, on my side. I'm just happy for him.
"It's amazing," added Bergeron. "He's obviously going to be a Hall of Famer, and like I said, I feel blessed that I had a chance to be with him, and learn from him."
The line of Bergeron, Recchi, and Brad Marchand created plenty of offense on Tuesday night, but it was their ability to do what they do best -- hustle -- that made them so productive against the Blackhawks.
And it's that hard-working, blue-collar type approach that's made the line so special all season long.
Bergeron and Marchand learned that from Recchi.
"The way that he competes, and the way that he works to get his ice time, and to get his goals and his assists," said Bergeron, still in awe of Recchi. "Even though he's been playing for 22 years, it's amazing the way he gets ready for games and practices. He's always bringing out his A-game, and his 100 percent effort.
"It's something that I'm trying to duplicate, and do the same," added Bergeron. "It's amazing, the way he prepares on and off the ice, his leadership, and all that stuff, I'm learning a lot from."
Recchi's accomplishments stem from hard work, but also, good eating habits, late in his career. He took the advice of a few good friends, took care of his diet, and the training results paid off.
Now, Recchi's surrounded by much younger players, who are taking advice from him, and seem to care more about his career point total than he does.
"These guys probably get more excited than I do, right now," said Recchi. "But at the end of my career, I'll look back, and be proud of what I did, and how long I played.
"Bergy's unbelievable," added Recchi. "He was so excited about it. He's obviously been a big help to me, since I've been here. He's kept me young, and kept me going, and has been an unbelievable centerman for me. He couldn't congratulate me enough. He was just so excited. He's a great teammate, and a great friend. It's been fun."
"At the age he's at, the way he's performing, is pretty incredible," said coach Claude Julien. "He brings some wisdom into the dressing room. He also brings some enthusiasm. He's young at heart, and players sense that. But they also realize that they can certainly lean on him, at times when they need some advice or some help. It's not always easy to come knocking on the coach's door for certain things. But when you've got a player that's been around the league that long, he's pretty easy to go to. And that's where he's been really good for us, in that dressing room."
During his rookie year, the way Recchi figured it, he'd have been lucky if he got just 10 seasons in the show. Twenty-two seasons later, he's still having fun, and he's still moving up in the record books.
However, on Tuesday night, in a Bruins locker room that was filled with a team celebrating another win against another battle-tested hockey club, Recchi longed for something more. Not another goal, not another assist, but another Stanley Cup.
"That's what I came back for," said Recchi. "I know it's been a long time since this team's seen a hockey championship. I know the direction that general manager Peter Chiarelli wanted to go in, and I liked it. I still felt great in the summer time. I felt great after last season. I still felt I had something left in the tank at the end of the season even. So I knew I could train well enough to get ready for this year, so I was excited to come back and really try to do this thing."
He said that if he won a championship this year with the Bruins, he's "gone."
But regardless of what happens after this season, the lessons he taught will always remain.
Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.