|ESPN.com: NHL Playoffs 2011||[Print without images]|
VANCOUVER, British Columbia -- Boston Bruins forward Mark Recchi retired on Wednesday night after winning his third Stanley Cup. The 43-year-old veteran announced his decision moments after Boston beat Vancouver 4-0 in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals. Recchi had one assist in the game.
"I'm done. Yeah that's it," Recchi said. "I couldn't ask for a better way to go out and to do it with this team was even more special. I love these guys. This is what we set out to do and we did it."
ESPNBoston.com confirmed prior to Game 7 that Recchi would retire after the game regardless of the outcome.
"We've talked about it and I had a glass of wine with him yesterday and it's probably the last glass with him before a game ever," veteran winger Shawn Thornton acknowledged earlier Wednesday. "So everyone loves (Recchi) and appreciates everything he's done for us. I'm a big supporter of his and I'm hoping we can do it for him."
That's exactly what the Bruins did for the now three-time Stanley cup champion who became the eighth player in NHL history to win a Stanley Cup in three different decades -- he won in 1991 with the Penguins and 2006 with the Hurricanes -- and the third player to win with three different teams, joining Joe Nieuwendyk and Claude Lemieux. He is also the only player on the Bruins roster who was alive the last time Boston won the Stanley Cup, which was 1972.
But even if Recchi didn't reach those milestones and win his third Stanley Cup he said he was happy to go down swinging with this Bruins team that battled through adversity all season and never wavered.
"Regardless of whether we won or not, this is one of the best teams and groups I've been with," Recchi said. "They're such a committed group and such a fun group. There was no turmoil at all and we really stuck together strong throughout the year and what a great bunch of guys."
One of his greatest pleasures of playing for the 2010-11 Bruins and the Bruins teams he has been on since arriving at the 2009 NHL trade deadline, has been to help mentor the young core of the franchise and this season that meant helping a player like linemate Brad Marchand find his game and prove he wasn't just agitator but someone who could score big goals in the playoffs.
"It's incredible how he stepped up and learned and what a way to start your career," Recchi said. "These young kids are going to learn a lot from this and they're going to be able to help the other young kids as they go on.
|Bruins captain Zdeno Chara hands Mark Recchi the Stanley Cup.|
"I just kept talking to him, kept him focused and keep him on the line," Recchi said of the rookie Marchand who finished the playoffs with eleven goals. "There's a fine line there and he did a great job and what a wonderful player he is. I enjoyed helping him and that was a gift. I've loved doing it through my whole career and even when I was 26 or 27, I loved grabbing the younger kids and you try and give back. I am a fan of the game as well and I want to watch Marchand and the young guys for a long time and say I had an impact on them."
Marchand had nothing but gratitude and praise for Recchi as the team celebrated on the ice after the momentous win.
"You know the amount he has pushed me and what he's done for me is unbelievable," Marchand said of Recchi. "I wouldn't be here right now if it wasn't for him. Everything I learned from him on and off the ice is unbelievable. It's such an honor to be part of this with him and to play with a guy I watched growing up, one of the greatest players to play the game, it's truly an honor to win this with him and play on his team."
Mentoring players, being part of Stanley Cups, and all the memories of his storied career came rushing through Recchi's mind as time went down but he had to suppress the emotions because head coach Claude Julien wanted Recchi out there for one last shift.
"Claude told me he was going to keep me on the ice at the end and just to be on the ice my last shift and to win a Stanley Cup it's unbelievable," Recchi said. "I had a little bit of crying going on but then Claude told me to go back out and I had shake it off and then the empty-netter it really hit me."
But when all was said and done this ranked as one of the greatest moments of a career that had plenty for Recchi.
"In Carolina I felt the same way, I had some emotions like that but not like this, knowing it's over," Recchi said. "Definitely this is something special though. It's a great way to go out and there's no better feeling right now."
Throughout his career and more recently as he neared retirement but kept on playing at the level he did, Recchi credited a glass of wine a night as his trick to staying young. He was asked if he would have one more after winning his third Stanley Cup Wednesday.
"Oh there will be more than one, that's for sure!" he said with a laugh.James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.