Recchi has continued to defy Father Time in his 22nd season, as he ranks sixth on the Bruins with 21 points and is tied for fifth with seven goals through 35 games. The latest goal came Tuesday night in Tampa, where he broke a 3-3 tie with a power-play strike with just 19.7 seconds left in regulation.
It was Recchi’s team-leading fourth game-winning goal this season, as Boston’s 4-3 victory pushed its current winning streak to three games. Recchi discussed his unique status as the league’s elder statesman in a conference call with reporters on Wednesday.
“I don’t know if it’s good or bad, but it’s all how you feel,” Recchi, who turns 43 on Feb. 1, said about being the oldest active player in the NHL. “I still feel good, and every year you go into it when you’re at the end of the season, see if I can do the training, and I’ve been feeling good, and health-wise, knock on wood, it’s been really good. Then you just make that decision from there. As long as I’m able to train and I think I can get in good enough shape [I’ll play], but there’s going to be a time and point where it’s going to be enough is enough. I’m not going after Cheli, put it that way.”
Cheli, of course, is defenseman Chris Chelios, who finally retired this offseason at age 48, following 26 seasons in the league. Recchi doesn’t plan on sticking around that long, but he isn’t ready to make this season his farewell tour either.
“Age-wise, it ain’t going to get there,” Recchi said. “Like I said, at the end of the season, I’ll see. I’ll see how I feel and see how the rest of the year goes and how the playoffs go and see if I can make that commitment again in the summer to train and do what I need to do to get ready for a season. It obviously gets harder every year, and it’s a pretty hard program I do and I’ve got to be ready to commit to it. If I’m going to go in half-ass to it, I might as well go hang out with my kids and play a little tennis or something.”
Recchi isn’t thinking about hitting the courts just yet. He’s more focused on the race in the Northeast Division, where the Bruins have finally passed archrival Montreal with their back-to-back wins in Florida and Tampa to take over first place.
“We’ve been chasing them for a while, and they’ve been giving us opportunities for a little while now, and we finally just the last couple games have taken advantage of it,” Recchi said. “We wanted to climb up there, and they were within reach. We had some games in hand, and we wanted to take advantage of it. We don’t want to stop now, and I think that’s the biggest thing.
“It’s a good race,” Recchi added. “Obviously, they’ve got off to a great start, and we’ve been a little bit inconsistent, but we’re trying to find that consistency before the end of the year. It’s been good. The guys are really committed to trying to obviously win our division and try and go see what we can do here.”
Taking the division crown would guarantee a top-three seed in the East and home ice to start the playoffs, but after back-to-back playoff disappointments the last two years, Recchi is more concerned with how the Bruins do in the postseason than any regular-season titles.
“We feel we’re good enough we’re going to get in regardless,” Recchi said. “We just believe in ourselves, and we believe that we can get in. But winning the division obviously gives you an opportunity to get some home ice and gives you that little flavor of home ice where you can try and take advantage of that. Not that it’s a huge thing in playoffs anymore like it used to be, but I still think it’s somewhat important.”
Playoff success is certainly more important to the two-time Cup winner than his own individual statistics, as impressive as they may be. Recchi ranks ninth all-time in games played (1,606), 20th in goals (570), 14th in assists (936) and 13th in points (1,506), but the veteran doesn’t get caught up thinking about the legends his name appears next to in the record books. He leaves that up to his younger teammates.
“The guys are great,” Recchi said. “They know my stats better than I do. I didn’t even know I scored my 570th [goal] [Tuesday] night. I knew I was around there, but actually, the coaching staff after said that was 570.
“My teammates have been awesome with that and really made it enjoyable,” Recchi added. “I think they really respect the fact that I’ve played a long time and really take pride in it and enjoy it with me, and that’s the fun thing for me is seeing how excited they are for me.”