June 14, 2011

Recchi one win away from going out on top

by Jesse Connolly

Mark Recchi salutes the crowd after being named one of the three stars in the Bruins 5-2 win over the Canucks in Game 6. (Getty)

BOSTON -- Mark Recchi had many a thought running through his mind before the start of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals. At the ripe old age of 43, the future Hall of Famer's ponderings admittedly included whether the looming contest might be the final one of his NHL career.

"It crosses my mind, but I have a job to do out there for the guys and I can't put those thoughts in my head," the Bruins winger said.

And oh what a job he did. Recchi racked up three assists on the night, helping lead Boston to a 5-2 victory, one that pushes this series to a seventh game on Wednesday in Vancouver.

Recchi has taken a lot of flak throughout the Black and Gold's postseason run, especially during a skid in the Eastern Conference Finals as he failed to register a point against the Lightning. But so far against the Canucks, the veteran forward has been money.

With his three points in Game 6, Recchi is now up to six points in the series. No matter how you slice it, whether he's benefitted from a bounce here, a bounce there or simply been in the right place at the right time, No. 28 has got the job done when it matters most -- further enhancing a spectacular playoff resumé in the process.

But the spotlight is hardly anything Recchi is in search of at this moment. Twice a Cup winner already, the 5-foot-10 winger is reveling in watching his teammates experience this long journey toward their ultimate goal.

"That doesn't motivate me," Recchi said of silencing his critics. "Number 1, playing for my teammates is what I play for. That's all I play for, my teammates, coach and the organization. I don't want to let them down."

Recchi wants just as badly to bring a Stanley Cup to a city that's been starved of a championship for nearly 40 years. Though he hasn't spent his entire career in Boston, Recchi has certainly been around long enough to comprehend the anguish New England has suffered in their support of the Bruins, as he was a member of their disappointing exit against the Hurricanes in 2009 and their historic collapse against the Flyers last spring.

"Obviously it's tremendous for the city and the organization, and not too many people counted on us being at this point right now," said Recchi. "It's a great feeling. We battled hard tonight. We came to play and it's coming down to one game. This is what we dream of. When you're little kids playing street hockey, you know, you're in Game 7."

And if Wednesday's Game 7 is Recchi's curtain call, win or lose, the Bruins captivating playoff run sure has been one helluva ride.

"No matter what, it's been a great 22 years and I've enjoyed every minute of it," Recchi said. "This has been one of my best ones, regardless of what happens and I'm just still proud to play in the NHL. I love playing hockey and love being in the NHL and I think it's the greatest sport out there."

For a man with not only a tremendous amount of talent, but one who has displayed the utmost class, dignity and respect for the game throughout his two-plus decades in the league, riding off into the sunset with the Stanley Cup in tow would be as fitting an ending to Recchi's illustrious career as it gets.