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

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

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Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece. 

 

Bruins lose Vatrano for three months after foot surgery

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Bruins lose Vatrano for three months after foot surgery

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The first bad break of Bruins camp arrived on Saturday with the news that scoring winger Frank Vatrano will be out three months after tearing a couple of ligaments in his left foot.

The 21-year-old winger from UMass and East Longmeadow, Mass., sustained the injury training just prior to the B’s fitness testing for camp and will have surgery on Monday at Mass General Hospital with Dr. George Theodore.

Vatrano had missed the first two days of camp after participating in captain’s practice just about right until the start of main training camp, so the injury must have happened just prior to Thursday’s off-ice testing.

“He had an injury just prior to testing, and it took a couple of days to make sure he had the proper evaluation. He saw a specialist yesterday and he’s scheduled for surgery on Monday,” said Bruins GM Don Sweeney. “One or two of the ligaments were torn when he was doing some running, so he’s out.”

The injury is a big blow for a Bruins team that clearly had plans on Vatrano filling out a top-six role and leaves the door wide open for a young players Danton Heinen, Jake DeBrusk, Zach Senyshyn or Peter Cehlarik to win an NHL job out of camp. Perhaps a veteran such as camp invite Peter Mueller could secure a job when it didn’t appear to be any room on the NHL roster just a few days ago.

Either way it’s damaging to a Bruins team that was relying on goal-scoring and explosive forward play from a guy who topped 40 goals combined in the NHL and AHL last season.

“Obviously it’s a blow. Frankie looked at as an opportunity to [win a top-6 spot]. We all did. How that was going to play out remained to be seen, but he was going to be afforded a position to see if he could grab hold of it,” said Sweeney. “So obviously, he’s disappointed, and we are as well. You look at as with all injuries…it’s a setback. But the doctors feel very good that three months from now he’ll be able to play and move forward.”

It’s not officially NHL training camp until a major injury strikes, so now the Bruins are in the middle of it after learning they’ll lose Vatrano until Christmastime. 

Here's Vatrano's "Countdown to camp" profile