Thornton, Recchi share Cup experiences


Thornton, Recchi share Cup experiences

By Joe Haggerty

VANCOUVER When Shawn Thornton and Mark Recchi get talking about their experiences winning the Stanley Cup, something happens in the Bruins dressing room.

It gets really, really quiet.

The eyes in the room get a little wider and players linger a little longer as Recchi talks about carrying the Cup as a young man in Pittsburgh and a grizzled veteran in Carolina, and Thornton tells what it was like to win it with Anaheim.

The elation when you won it that night was hard to explain, said Thornton. There are no words to explain it. It was the greatest day of my life. All those bus rides, all the three games in 2 12 days and fighting five times in three nights in the minors . . . all that crap was finally worth it. All those feelings really come together at once when you win the Cup and its kind of emotional actually.

Of course, Thornton also had a brush with the Cup early in his NHL career when Bruins legend Bobby Orr brought it to an annual Oshawa golf tournament and offered the young enforcer a chance to take a picture with it around the 17th hole.

Im pretty sure he didnt know who I was, but, being such a nice guy, Bobby offered me a chance to get a picture with the Cup, said Thornton. I think Id had 12-15 NHL games in my belt at that point. I said No, Im good, because you never freakin know if your chance is going to come to win it.

Now Im glad I didnt. I never thought it would happen for me, but it did eventually. I told Bobby Id take a picture with him. Just not with that big trophy.

Last week, Recchi and Thornton brought their Stanley Cup rings into the Bs dressing room prior to Game 7 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two veterans wanted to show the rest of their teammates exactly what it is they were playing for. Suffice to say, the ploy was effective when it came to getting the Bruins ready to play in the biggest game of their lives.

Now Recchi is hoping to see his teammates carry thay feeling through to the Cup Final, so the aging winger can watch the celebration hes been envisioning in his head for two years.

This is a great time, and you might never see it come again, said Recchi. Its the ultimate dream for all of us, and its exactly what you set out to do as a hockey player. Its what I dreamed of when I was playing street hockey with my brothers, and playing out on the ponds in the winter with your buddies.

I want to win it for the rest of the guys in here more than anything else. Ive been lucky enough to win it a couple times, and I want to win another one. Thats why I came back. But I also want to see the rest of these guys put a Cup up in the air. I want to party with them.

Among these Bruins, only Recchi and Thornton know what its like to hoist the 34 12-pound Cup over their heads. For Thornton, the Cup didnt feel heavy at all the night the Ducks won it, but he remembers it getting a little tougher to drag around when he had it for a day in Oshawa.

Recchi had a handful of hours with the Cup his first time around in Pittsburgh, but he probably didnt appreciate it as much as he might have after winning the World Junior, the Turner Cup and the Stanley Cup over a span of four years as a young NHL star. Winning, at that time, was something he'd come to expect.

But it didn't happen again for 15 years. So the second experience with the Cup, as a member of the Hurricanes, was a memorable one. Recchi had it for a day of revelry that finished with the then 38-year-old sleeping with the Cup in his bed.

Recchi said Monday he'll retire if the Bruins can take down the favored Canucks and he also has a 1970 bottle of Bordeaux wine hell crack open if he gets to celebrate one more championship with a band of teammates hes grown to love playing with over the last three years.

Regardless of what happens, this will go down as one of the best groups Ive ever played with, said Recchi. Its one of the most enjoyable Ive been with. Ive played with a lot of great groups of guys, and this one ranks right up there.

That tightness and togetherness is one thing that would make a Cup celebration all the sweeter for players who have been pulling for each other since heading for Europe in September. And the celebration should be a pretty easy one if they get there.

Just follow the leads of Recchi and Thornton. Theyve been there before.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics


Hayes knows he's a good player, wants to silence the critics

BOSTON, Mass. – There’s a long way to go toward a complete resurrection from last season’s misdeeds, but Jimmy Hayes made a nice little statement that he’s learned some lessons in Boston’s preseason debut. The Bruins lost the game, 3-2, in the shootout to the Columbus Blue Jackets, but Hayes scored one of the two goals for the Black and Gold as one of the few veterans in a very youthful lineup for Boston.

The Hayes goal was a nice give-and-go with Jake DeBrusk at the end of a nice transition play in the second period, and was the highlight of a night playing on the right wing with DeBrusk and center Austin Czarnik. The score and a team-high four shots on net for Hayes represent a good start for what he hopes is a gigantic rebound season after last year’s disappointment.

Clearly Hayes heard some of the unflattering chatter about him on sports talk radio and otherwise last season, and may even understand how his difficult season in his home city of Boston -- whether he actively expressed it to him or not -- might have been a factor in his buddy Jimmy Vesey ultimately choosing New York over Boston.

It appears the former Boston College standout is looking to change the conversation in Boston. 

“Yeah, sure am. I’ve got a lot to come out here and…[there were] a lot of comments about myself, but I know I’m a good player. I got to this level for a reason,” said Hayes, who dropped from 19 goals and 35 points with the Panthers to 13 goals, 29 points and a career-worst minus-12 for the Bruins last season.

“To be able to play at the NHL level and continue to play at that level on a consistent basis is what I expect out of myself. I do it for myself and our teammates, and to help our team win. I’ll continue moving forward.

“It’s funny being the old guy on the line. It’s nice to see those young guys and see how excited they are, and how excited I am to get back out there. That’s what I said to the guys, they still have the jitters and they still have them for the first preseason game. It shows that these guys want it and it’s been a lot of fun skating with those guys. They’ve got a lot of speed and to keep pushing the pace. Trying to keep up with them has been a lot of fun.”

There is still a long way to go for the 26-year-old winger, and his willingness to stick around the danger areas on Monday night was a welcomed one for a Bruins team that needs his 6-foot-6 body in front of the net. Hayes paid the price with stitches and a fat lip after taking a Dalton Prout high-stick to the mouth in front of the Columbus net that went uncalled on a Bruins PP at the end of the second period.

That’s all part of the big man’s game on the ice, however. It’s also the kind of battle and determined fight that Hayes will need to show much more consistently in his second season with the hometown Bruins if he’s truly looking to bounce-back from last year’s mediocre performance. 

Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener


Carlo 'arguably the best' defenseman for Bruins in preseason opener

BOSTON – On a night when many of Boston’s young players stepped up nicely, perhaps none did more so than 19-year-old defenseman Brandon Carlo. The youngster was in a top pair role with John-Michael Liles against a decent Columbus Blue Jackets lineup that included Sam Gagner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, Brandon Saad and Sonny Milano, and had almost no miscues in his 20:16 of ice time.

Better than that, Carlo notched an assist on the game-tying score in the third period when his right point shot made it through traffic for Danton Heinen to redirect it past Curtis McElhinney from the slot. That left Carlo with an assist, a plus-1 rating and three shots on net in 20:16 of ice time to go along with some heavy battling around the net whenever Blue Jackets players tried to get too close.

“Arguably our best D, if not our best D. [He showed] real good decision-making, and his gaps are good. I can really only think of one time in the third period he kind of threw a puck away in the middle of a change, and ended up on his wrong side,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “It wasn’t a bad turnover, but it was just one that he could have made a little bit of a better decision.

“He didn’t handle the puck much in the game, that’s pretty good. He jumped up the ice, got his shot through when it was there, matched up well with whoever he was put out there [against], pushed back in front of our net. [There were] a lot of good things.”

It’s a big training camp for Carlo, who is more than likely earmarked for Providence unless he can utilize a stellar training camp performance to push over one of the seven veteran Bruins D-men with NHL contracts. That means potentially displacing Joe Morrow as the seventh defensemen on the roster, or forcing the Bruins to possibly deal Adam McQuaid or Kevan Miller if the Bruins feel he is ready for the day-to-day NHL grind.

The preseason opener was a good start that the 2015 second round pick was excited about, but things will certainly get more challenging for Carlo as the Bruins get deeper into this training camp.

“I just want to keep the same mentality, same energy. Show a little bit more physicality. I felt like I did that, but definitely could close a little quicker in a few instances overall. I just want to keep building on every game,” said Carlo. “There are some very strong guys on the puck in this league and throughout this game they had those guys out there definitely. Overall, you just have to compete just as hard as them.

“You’re dealing with NHL guys out there. [The Blue Jackets] had some pretty good guys in their lineup tonight and everyone is competing for jobs on both sides…so the speed was phenomenal. I loved it.”

The Bruins loved what they saw of Carlo in a pretty big opportunity right out of the gate this preseason, and now the teenager has set the bar if he wants to keep pushing with a hockey club that needs to upgrade their defense with strong, young players.