The Recchin' Ball
Mark Recchi's being written off by an awful lot of people these days.
Maybe that goes with the territory when you're one of the most underrated 1,300-point scorers in NHL history. Recchi's 23rd on the all-time career points leaders list, 12 shy of Guy Lafleur and ahead of such active contemporaries as Brendan Shanahan and Mike Modano. A couple more 80 game, 50 point seasons would put him into the top 12 in all-time games played and 14th in career points.
That's pretty impressive.
Recchi was put on waivers yesterday by the Penguins more due to his salary and birth certificate than anything he's done on the ice, because if you look at his numbers this season, he's been just fine. Pittsburgh's been in the tank to start the year, sure, but it's easy to name six younger forwards who have struggled far more than the grizzled, 39-year-old vet this season.
Regardless of what happens with this latest mess, I don't think he's going to fade away, sail into the sunset a la Brett Hull and quit midseason. For one, I highly doubt Recchi thinks he's anywhere near done. A lot of what's gone on with the Penguins has to do with his rocky relationship with coach Michel Therrien, someone who has a history of difficult dealings with players at this level.
All that said, there are very few players that can be said to have a Mirtle bias attached to them, and Recchi is one of them. He's the best athlete to ever rise out of my little working-class hometown, an undersized bulldog who helped establish the junior Blazers as a powerhouse in the late 1980s. He's been a terrific ambassador for Kamloops, where he has streets named after him and has established numerous charitable organizations, and Recchi's extended that work to his adopted home of Pittsburgh by buying a suite for the Make-A-Wish Foundation for every Penguins home game.
A seven-time all-star, Recchi really never gets mentioned up with the best old-timers still in the game, but his terrific turn with the Hurricanes during their Cup win in 2006 certainly proved he's far from washed up. He and Joe Sakic were the only two of the NHL's 30 eldest statesmen to crack 65 points last season.
Here's one Kamloops kid hoping the Recchin' Ball's got one more run left in him. My guess is at least one team takes that bet despite the $2-million cap hit.