May 31, 2011, 1:08 AM EDT
The elder statesman of the NHL confirmed what the media and fans alike have speculated for weeks: Mark Recchi will call it quits if the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup. Shocking no one, he has carried himself with class through the entire situation and even when reports brought it up before the team left for Vancouver, he was still quick to put the focus on the team before his personal decisions.
Here’s what Recchi told Joe Haggerty from CSNNE.com when he asked asked the veteran about any plans to retire after the season:
“This isn’t about me at all and I want to keep it that way. It’s about putting all our efforts into winning the Cup for everyone in this room, for the fans and for the city of Boston. But if we win Cup, I’m definitely going to walk away (and retire).”
At this point in his career, Recchi has earned the right to go out however he wants. The 43-year-old has racked up 577 goals and 956 assists in 1,653 career games (4th all time)—those are the kind of numbers that deserve a little respect. Even though his career statistics are staggering, he can attribute his longevity to his ability (or willingness) to evolve from scorer to veteran leader.
While his 48 points were important in a secondary scoring role, his most important role for the Bruins was serving as a mentor for some of the younger players on the team like Tyler Seguin. Claude Julien knows how important Recchi has been to this year’s Bruin team:
On what Mark Recchi has meant to the organization and how much it would mean to see him go out on top…
Well it would be nice for a couple of reasons. Obviously his commitment especially to our team since he’s been with us and the will to really go above and beyond his role as a player and really have taken some young players under his wing and has been bringing them home for meals, or whether he’s talked to them about certain situations and certain times of the year. And some young guys go through slumps, and as a coach you can talk to those guys and try and do the best you can, encourage them and help them correct what needs to be corrected. But when you got a guy like Mark Recchi in the dressing room that will go up to this player and put his arm around him and say listen I’ve been through this and so on and so forth, these are the things that are part of the game. And coaches are as good as the people that surround them, and a lot of time you think it’s just about assistant coaches or other people. It’s also about their players, and when their players get it, they can certainly be a big asset to us because we come in the dressing room, we give them the message that we need to give them, but it has to be reinforced by players. And Mark [Recchi] has always been the one who, one of many in that dressing room that’s done that. So he’s been a really valuable asset to our hockey club and he’ got a lot of things to back it up with.
For people looking for the “feel good” story of the veteran retiring on top (see: Andreychuk, Dave; Bourque, Ray), look no further than Mark Recchi. In his 23rd NHL season, he’s looking for a third Stanley Cup to cap an unbelievably underrated career. Not that we’re rooting for him to retire or anything, but it would be nice for him to retire as a champion.
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