What a hockey player. What a classy guy. He was small, only 5’8″, but he will always be remembered as one of the best “little guys” in the history of the NHL. A winner of three Stanley Cups with three different teams. He brought an offensive spark to Pittsburgh in 1991. He brought Cup experience to Carolina in 2006. And he brought leadership and poise to Boston in 2011. His is a 22 year career, one that should result in a Hall of Fame induction on the first ballet.
As a Penguins fan, I was introduced to Mark’s pure scoring ability in 1990-91. With Mario Lemieux on the injury list for most of that season, the burden of carrying Pittsburgh’s offense fell upon veterans like John Cullen and Paul Coffey. Cullen, of course, was traded in that famous trade with Hartford. You know the one; the one that brought Ron Francis to Pittsburgh. But the two high-flying Penguins were joined by a second-year winger that exploded for 113 points, helping the Penguins to the Patrick Division title for the first time in their history. No one would dare say Penguins couldn’t fly with Recchi sniping all season long.
Mr. Recchi, what do you do for an encore to that incredible regular season?
His answer came emphatically in the 1991 postseason, as he went on a scoring tear again, notching 34 points in 24 games…only ten less than Mario Lemieux. His contributions were instrumental in bringing the 1991 Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh. He and Mario made magic together in the playoffs…as evidenced in a verbatim play-by-play in the Finals…
“Recchi has tipped it to Lemieux…back to Recchi…he scores!!!”
Penguins fans will look at Mark Recchi with fond memories. The shock and sadness of the sudden trade of Recchi to Philadelphia in 1992 wasn’t soon forgotten. That trade…that also saw Paul Coffey head to Los Angeles to be reunited with Wayne Gretzky…at the time felt like the gutting of a Cup champion. Of course, the pieces the Penguins got in return…Rick Tocchet, Ken Wregget, Kjell Samuelsson, and Jeff Chychrun…did propel them to the 1992 Stanley Cup championship, so some of the sting was eased. But Recchi will always have a special spot in the hearts of Penguins fans.
In addition to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, Recchi played for Montreal, Carolina, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, and finally, Boston. A fan favorite wherever he went, Recchi was a sparkplug, a pinball of energy that accepted the role given to him in any system. He wasn’t afraid to be controversial in attempts to deflect blame from teammates. A consummate team player, Mark Recchi has been rewarded three times with a Stanley Cup ring. Now he has retired, leaving us Mark Recchi fans with lots of memories…and a sadness that another one of the greats will not grace NHL ice again. For those of us who were privileged to have watched Recchi play, we tip our hats to an amazing player who had an amazing career.
His contributions to each team he played for will never be forgotten.
Thank you, Mark Recchi, from this lifelong Penguins fan.