Wednesday, December 05, 2007

The Recchin' Ball

ark 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.



At 1:58 a.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous Jeff said...

James, I love your writing and I normally think you're dead on with analysis. In this case, however, all I can tell you is what the fans who watch every game have seen this year: Recchi is out of gas. I don't pretend to know anything about the locker room or head office relationships, but watching Rex play hurts those of us who know how great he was. You shouldn't go out at the bottom, you know? Rex just didn't have it in him this year, no matter what your numbers say.

At 2:16 a.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 2:52 a.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If it weren't for the cap hit, I'd bet the Maple Leafs would pick him up in a heartbeat. Then again, they would have to find someone willing to take Pavel Kubina's fat contract to clear up space.

I hope Recchi catches on somewhere, but I think he'll probably clear waivers. Let's hope the Penguins do the right thing and release him afterward so he doesn't have to suit up for Scranton Wilkes-Barre in a few days.

At 2:55 a.m., December 05, 2007, Blogger Andrew Bucholtz said...

I agree that Recchi deserves to wind up somewhere. The question is if he will though, which as you mention, is mostly due to age and salary. He might be a good fit for a young team with some cap space that could use a bit of scoring and some leadership. However, he might go the way of Alex Mogilny, who was (IMO) unceremoniously dumped from the league while he could still play due to a too-high contract. It would be sad to see another former great put out to pasture in such a way, but it seems to be a reality of the cap system.

At 3:14 a.m., December 05, 2007, Blogger Bruce said...

I thought Mogilny retired due to a bad hip.

At 5:58 a.m., December 05, 2007, Blogger Andrew Bucholtz said...

My understanding is that the hip was involved in his eventual retirement, but I was referring more to his being sent down to the minors (Albany) in January 2006 despite a respectable 12 goals (and 25 points) in 34 games. No one plucked him off wavers, largely due to cap reasons (although the hip injury likely came into it), and he wound up playing out the season (19 more games) with Albany and then giving up altogether. The Devils then got an exemption from the cap for the last year of his contract, citing his hip as a long-term disability. Perhaps he's not the perfect example, as there were injury issues involved, but the original reason he was dropped from the Devils, put on waivers, left unclaimed and eventually shipped to the minors was primarily salary and age considerations IMO. I'd hate to see something similar happen to Recchi.

At 10:44 a.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous jack said...

The entire Penguins team could have been put on waivers at the start of this season, they were playing like they didn't care. Recchi seemed to become the guy that everyone pinned that on. He was skating as well as I'd seen, but he simply couldn't finish. He didn't look like he lost a step, and he wasn't shying away from contact. He just couldn't finish. But not a single player on the Penguins was finishing. I agree that this is a coach therrien move more than anything else. In this locker room, if you are't 22 then you had better be playing a significant role. But to go from wearing an 'A' to being given up on in a matter of weeks doesn't speak well for the Penguins' suits.

At 12:11 p.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Recchi might have been telling the kids that Therrien is an idiot.
Which, while unkind, is the God's Honest Truth.

At 12:23 p.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you watched any Pens games this year that he played in, you could tell he was not the same player. He had so many unforced turnovers. He continually screwed up rushes. The puck would just drift off his stick or he would make errant passes 4 or 5 times a game. It was embarassing. His hands are shot, that's all there is to it. There's nothing organizationally that's causing this, the Pens just don't think he can hack it anymore, and they're right. But that doesn't diminish his wonderful career. He is a Pittsburgh legend.

At 3:01 p.m., December 05, 2007, Blogger steve a said...

As a Sabres fan, I'd like to see him suit up wearing the slug. Since the start of the season I've been saying they need a cagey vet to round things out. Teppo fit the bill, but he's been down for the count and who knows if he'll veer be back. The Sabres have cap room and he'd be a great teacher and inspiration for some of the younger players.

At 3:29 p.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why would anyone be intersted that guy? he's back stabber. he got bill barber fired

At 3:42 p.m., December 05, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone can see Therrien's a horrible coach. He's squandering some of the game's greatest talents.
And I'm sure Recchi's a great guy, especially if we don't count how he called out Crosby in his rookie season to stop being a baby (arguably the truth, but what a dumbass).
But from an economic standpoint, $2 million is $2 million and he wasn't delivering. Not when they let Ouellet fly instead of sign him for a million. Not when they have Christensen, Armstrong, Kennedy, Staal, Malkin, et al, making less money on entry-level contracts.
The NHL is not a charity. It does not owe Recchi a living.

At 1:04 p.m., December 07, 2007, Anonymous Matt E. said...

As a citizen of Pittsburgh i'd have to say Mark Recchi really was one of the greatest players we could still have as a vet. He has been around for so long and still contributes to the team with leadership and points. It really hurts to see Mark Recchi being dropped like that from the Pens. How do you go from wearing an A and being a huge leader on the top two lines and top powerplay unit to being dropped off the team. He really played well last year and Therrien did not give him the chance he deserved to get into a run. All of the players on the pens couldn't finish what they started and Recchi was the one who got the blame put on. Staal had a horrible pointless streak and wasn't removed from the lineup once. I hope Recchi gets a good chance by some club.


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