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

B's determined to "keep it going" during good offensive run

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B's determined to "keep it going" during good offensive run

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- The Bruins are going through a nice, little bountiful stretch of offense right now after a half-season of struggle.

The Bruins are averaging more than three goals per game in their last 12 contests, and have scored a whopping 22 goals in their last six games including dropping six scores on the Flyers Saturday afternoon at TD Garden. Combine that with the 7-for-25 performance on the power play during the month of January, and things are finally starting to catch up with a Bruins team that was all shoot/no score for months of frustrating hockey this season.

“If you want sustained success then you have to be good defensively, but you also have to score some goals. That’s definitely part of it and we have to keep it going,” said Patrice Bergeron, who has four goals and eight points in his last nine games after struggling out of the starting gate. “You’re not going to get rewarded every night like we did [against the Flyers], but you have to find that consistency where you’re close to having that every night.”

One thing nobody should expect out of the B’s, however, is to get outside of what they do well now that they’ve started slapping some numbers up on the board. Instead the Bruins are intent on their bedrock of disciplined defense and sensational goaltending with the added offense just making it much tougher to beat them these days.

“I don’t know if we can stand here and say we’re going to sustain that we’re scoring lots of goals. I think what we need to sustain here is winning more games than we lose,” said Claude Julien. “That’s what we’ve got to sustain. Whether it’s a 1-0 or 2-1 game, or it’s a 5-2 or 5-3 game it doesn’t really matter. It’s about winning hockey games much more than it’s about how much you scored, and how much you don’t score.

“Overall when I look at the scoring chances we’re giving up per game, that doesn’t seem to have changed. Goals allowed may have changed a little bit lately, but overall I think we’ve been very steady in that area [of defense].”

So now the Bruins will again be looking for that ideal balance of offense/defense when they take the ice against the Islanders on Monday afternoon for their second straight matinee at TD Garden. 

Morrow has "confident feeling" as he readies to jump into B's lineup

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Morrow has "confident feeling" as he readies to jump into B's lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It’s been a long month of bag skates and lonely practices for Bruins defenseman Joe Morrow.

That’s about to change thanks to injuries to both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller, who are both not expected to be able to play against the New York Islanders on Monday afternoon at TD Garden. That means Morrow will be in the B’s lineup for the first time since a Dec. 12 win over the Montreal Canadiens, a span of 16 consecutive B’s games that the 24-year-old has been watching from the press box.

Morrow skated in a pairing with John-Michael Liles in Sunday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena prior to Monday’smatinee, and obviously he’s looking forward to getting back into games given this season’s sporadic practice schedule.

“[Playing well after sitting for long stretches] isn’t necessarily something you want to be good at, but if you are good at then it’s a good tool to have in your bag. It’s a confident feeling that I’ll be able to come in [and play well],” said Morrow, who has an assist and a minus-3 rating in 13 games for the Black and Gold this season. “I’ve stayed in good shape and worked hard in practice, and that’s all I can do up until this point.

“Put simply, [this year’s compacted schedule] is exhausting. Countless times I’ve skated by myself, and anybody would tell you there’s nothing harder than skating by yourself on a sheet of ice. Mentally and physically it’s just exhausting. There haven’t been many practices and there haven’t been many game-type situations in the practices we do have. Skating with the whole team is almost like a pregame skate scenario. But you’re still skating every day, so it’s putting it upon yourself to go out there and stay ready for things.”

The one issue for Morrow, a former first round pick, over the last couple of seasons has been maintaining a high level of play once he draws his way into the lineup. It feels like there’s a drop-off in his play once he’s played a few games in a row whether it’s physical mistakes or mental lapses in his play, and that’s something he wants to avoid when given an opportunity to suit up.

“I feel like when I have played this year that I’ve been quite consistent and that I’ve played well,” said Morrow, the last remaining part of the 2013 Tyler Seguin trade still in a Bruins uniform. “I’m just in a situation that the cards are playing out the way that they are, so it depends on how many games I get whether it’s one, two, 30 or however many games are left [in the season]. It’s realistically entirely up to me. If I can shake the rust out in the first couple of shifts and start from there, it’s going to be a big positive in my book. It’s the really the only option I have left now.”

Given that Colin Miller began skating on his own on Sunday morning, it might not be a very big window for Morrow to impress upon the coaches just how badly he wants to play. But one would expect he’s going to bring his best on Monday against the Isles with the hopes that it will be somebody else sitting up in the press box when it once again becomes a D-man numbers game for the 7-8 players for six lineup spots.