Recchi still providing lessons after 22 years

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Recchi still providing lessons after 22 years

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

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.

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

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Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

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Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.