BOSTON — Mark Recchi has felt like a kid again all season long, the youngsters in the Bruins locker room helping the 43-year-old veteran fight off Father Time for another year.
On Tuesday, Recchi looked like a kid again. After picking up an assist in Boston's 3-0 win over Chicago to move past Paul Coffey into sole possession of 12th place in NHL history with 1,532 points, Recchi was rewarded with the vintage Bruins warm-up jacket that is now being passed around to the player of the game after each Bruins victory.
Most of the Bruins to don the jacket so far, including the inaugural recipient Milan Lucic last Tuesday, had never seen a jacket quite like that, but Recchi was quite familiar with the style. They were all the rage when he first broke into the league back in 1988.
"I did, I had lots of these," Recchi said. "I probably still have a few kicking around. Andrew [Ference] came up with this. I don't know where he found it, but it's pretty awesome. It's a great thing. It goes back to the old Bruins days and hopefully we can do something special like they did."
The Bruins would actually probably have to find an even older jacket to recreate the wardrobe of the club's last Stanley Cup in 1972, but that's the goal Recchi is seeking in his 22nd NHL season. And that means more than any other potential milestones that could be within reach as he nears the 600-goal and 1,000-assist plateaus with 576-956-1,532 totals. It also means an accomplishment that would finally push Recchi into a happy retirement.
"I'm hoping we go on a long ride, it just makes it real easy for me to say see you later," Recchi said. "We win and I say I'm gone. If we win a championship, I'm gone."
The Bruins are making a case that they could be contenders for a title this spring. In their last two games they have beaten each of last year's Stanley Cup finalists, edging the Flyers 2-1 in Philadelphia on Sunday before blanking the Blackhawks Tuesday.
And Recchi's presence on the ice and in the room is a big part of the club's success.
"I think we've spoken about that so many times this year because, you know, at the age he's at, the way he's performing is pretty incredible," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Again, he brings some wisdom in the dressing room, but he also brings some enthusiasm. He's young at heart and players sense that, but they also realize that they can certainly lean on him at times when they need some advice or some help. It's not always easy to come knocking on the coach's door for certain things, but when you've got a player who's been around the league for that long, he's really easy to go to and that's where he's been really good for us in that dressing room."
Patrice Bergeron, Recchi's center for most of the season, is one player who's certainly taken advantage of soaking in whatever wisdom Recchi has to offer.
"I mean it's unbelievable if you think about it," Bergeron said. "It's big names that he's passing there and it's crazy how many points it is. I'm just happy to be on the ice with him and to have a chance to enjoy something like that because I don't think I'll be there for that on my side. So I'm just happy for him and it's something that's amazing. I mean he's obviously going to be a Hall of Famer and like I said, I feel blessed that I had a chance, or have a chance to be with him and learn from him."
Recchi is equally appreciative of what Bergeron has done to help extend his effectiveness this late in his career.
"Bergy's unbelievable," Recchi said. "He's obviously been a big help to me since I've been here. He's kept me young and kept me going. He's an unbelievable centerman for me, he just couldn't congratulate me enough. He was so excited. He's a great teammate and a great friend. And it's been fun, it's been fun with all these guys, they've made it really enjoyable for me. And hopefully we can continue this thing for a long time."
A long time this spring anyway, then maybe Recchi will be ready for a well-deserved rest.