BOSTON — Coming into Tuesday’s game with the Blackhawks, 43-year-old Mark Recchi was chasing another milestone to add to his impressive career that has spanned for four decades, beginning in the 1988-89 season when he played 15 games for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
We obviously wouldn’t have talked about this milestone if Recchi decided to hang up the skates after last season’s collapse in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Ultimately, however, “Rex” decided to help the Bruins make a run to the Stanley Cup and return for his 22nd season.
“I know its been a long time since this team has won a hockey championship,” Recchi said after the Bruins’ 3-0 victory over Chicago Tuesday night at the TD Garden. “I know the direction Peter [Chiarelli] wanted to go in and I liked it. I still felt great in the summer time and I felt like that I still had something in the tank at the end of the season even.”
Recchi’s longevity has been widely talked about around the Hub, and on Tuesday, he surpassed Paul Coffey for 12th place on the NHL’s all-time scoring list, tallying point No. 1,532 after an assist — the 956th of his career — on Johnny Boychuk’s goal at 14:22 of the second period.
But while Recchi was pleased with the milestone, he was more impressed with the victory against a team who is fighting for their playoff lives in the Western Conference.
“I mean it’s great,” he said. “It comes in another big win for us and that’s what makes it that much more sweeter.”
After going to bat for captain Zdeno Chara last week on “Felger and Mazz” on 98.5 The Sports Hub — where Recchi said that the Canadiens embellished the extent of Max Pacioretty’s injury to try to get the league to suspend him — the team captain gave much praise to Recchi’s accomplishments and leadership abilities.
“It’s great. It’s unbelievable. He still competes,” Chara said about Recchi’s accomplishments. “He still has such a desire and love for the game and a lot of passion. To have such a player, leader and person on your team is such a big help.”
Although Recchi still has a lot left in the tank, he is focused on helping the Bruins bring a championship to Boston for the first time since 1972.
But could he hang up the skates if the Bruins accomplish that feat?
“I’m hoping we go on a long ride,” Recchi stated. “It just makes it real easy for me to say ‘see you later.’ We win and I say I’m gone. If we win a championship, I’m gone.”
But what if the Bruins don’t capture Lord Stanley’s Cup?
“We’ll see if I can recover,” he said. “Obviously take three weeks or a month, see if my body and my head is ready to get back in the grind physically doing the stuff I need to do to get ready for next year.”
A lot remains to be seen. But one thing is for certain; Recchi has his sights set on another deep, playoff run.