BOSTON — Mark Recchi was at the Garden on Thursday morning and will be on hand for the Bruins' Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony later in the evening. Recchi won't be in uniform against the Flyers, but Boston will have a second alternate captain on the ice as the Bruins have finally decided who will replace Recchi in that role.
Not surprisingly, it will actually take two players to fill the skates of the respected 22-year veteran who retired after winning his third Cup last spring. Defenseman Andrew Ference and forward Chris Kelly will share the second A, joining returning alternate Patrice Bergeron and captain Zdeno Chara as Bruins lettermen.
"What we're going to end up doing is one of them will be home guy and the other guy will be the away guy for the first half of the season and then they'll alternate," Bruins coach Claude Julien explained. "We feel that we have a lot of leaders in our dressing room and if at some point one of those guys ends up on the sidelines for whatever reason, somebody else will be replacing one of those guys and it won't be the other guy doing both."
Ference will open the season wearing the A at home, with Kelly donning it for road contests in the first half of the year.
"I think all the players and coaching staff kind of agree that those guys have the personality that gives them that respect in the room," Julien said of the choices. "Also, they have that personality that shows leadership in the right way on and off the ice and they're highly respected in our dressing room. So our guys really felt strongly here. There didn't seem to be any questions on whether they were the right choices. It really was pretty unanimous overall. So it just became the obvious choices."
Ference and Kelly certainly have all the qualifications to take on a leadership role, but the Bruins have plenty of other players capable of leading as well. Julien dismissed the idea of rotating the second A among a larger group, but stressed that he still expects everyone to continue to contribute regardless of whether or not they have an A on their jersey.
"That's something we felt was important," Julien said. "We didn't feel we'd get as much impact as just moving it around all the time because there has to be some sort of stability, but our leadership group remains bigger than their letters that are out there and we're going to take advantage of that inside that dressing room."