BOSTON -- After the Boston Bruins won their first Stanley Cup since 1972 with a 4-0 victory over the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals, veteran winger Mark Recchi called it a career, retiring after 22 seasons in the NHL and winning three Stanley Cups.
Since that night at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, Recchi says he hasn't had any second thoughts about coming back for another season. But he admitted he has had a bit of trouble breaking part of his summer routine that always included plenty of runs and a strict workout regimen.
Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty ImagesConvinced the Bruins could win the Stanley Cup, Mark Recchi came back to play his 22nd season and was proved correct.
"It hasn't really sunk in yet, but I kind of joke around about how I don't have to work out, but then I get up in the morning and I run so it's kind of funny in that respect," Recchi told ESPNBoston.com earlier this week. "It's been such a routine over the years, so that's good, I guess, that I still do that automatically.
"I've only worked out a few times, but now I will get back into that routine because I've given myself enough of a break and it's time to get into it. But it's good I don't have to do the hard stuff that hurts. That's always nice."
Not that there necessarily would have been any regrets, but after winning the Stanley Cup in the final game of his career, there's really no reason for second thoughts. In fact, Recchi made it known before Game 7 of the finals that he was calling it a career, win or lose. Still, he couldn't have scripted it any better.
"There was no better way than what I did," Recchi said. "With the group of guys we had, with Peter [Chiarelli] and the coaching staff, and then them believing in me and me believing in them prior to the season, giving it one more shot when I signed on for another year, I really believed in what we were doing. Then to go out and do it is incredible; that's the reason I came back. I believe it's the toughest trophy in sports to win, so to come back and be able to do it is so incredible."
Game 7 of the finals was the fourth elimination game the Bruins faced in the playoffs, but Recchi said he didn't really think about potentially playing in the final game of his career until that one in Vancouver.
"You know, the only time I ever thought about it was Game 7 against Vancouver," Recchi said. "When our line was out there to start the game and during the anthem, I knew that this is it no matter what. So during the national anthem, I just kind of took it all in, but then I got my focus again and thought to myself, 'This is the last time I am going to play, and let's make it a good one and go out on top.' Then I got back into my focus and doing what I had to do."
When linemate Brad Marchand gave the Bruins a 4-0 lead with an empty-net goal with 2:44 left in regulation, the emotions started to really flow. But Recchi had to quickly suppress the tears and gather himself when coach Claude Julien tapped him to go out for the last shift of the game.
"After we made it 4-0, I started to get emotional, but then Claude came over and said he wanted me on the ice for the last shift, and I had to regroup at that point," Recchi said with a chuckle. "But it was awesome that he did that, and it's just the type of coach that Claude is. He always looks out for his players and cares about stuff like that. He wanted me to be on the ice for my last shift, and that will always mean a lot."
According to Recchi, his reflective emotions were flowing the night before over a glass of wine with teammate Shawn Thornton, when he told Thornton that win or lose he was done.
"Shawn Thornton came over to my room the night before, and I told [him] this is my last night playing and I wanted to have a glass of wine with him," Recchi recalled. "We sat down, had the glass of wine and talked for a bit. There was just this beautiful view of the ocean and just sitting there talking was nice. I needed a good chat with a good friend and I need to share my feelings with someone. That was just something I'll always remember."
Recchi, who got an assist in Game 7, was presented with the old-school Bruins jacket the team gave to the player deemed the MVP of each playoff win. Recchi said he was told to keep the jacket, but he decided to give it back to the team to be framed and hung on a wall of the Bruins' dressing room at TD Garden.
Elsa/Getty ImagesAfter the Bruins took a 4-0 lead in Game 7 at Vancouver, Mark Recchi let his emotions loose but had to rein them in quickly.
"It will hang there in the dressing room with some other great stuff from the Cup run," Recchi said.
When the Bruins were down 2-0 to the Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the playoffs, with the next two games at the Bell Centre, Recchi guaranteed the Bruins would bring the series back to Boston tied at two games apiece. He believed they'd do the same when they fell behind the Canucks 2-0.
"I believed in what our guys are about and the coaching staff and management, everyone with the team; I just knew we had it in us," Recchi said. "There was no question in my mind because any time we had our backs against the wall during the season, we came out firing.
"We were a better team than the 103 points we ended up with, but at the same time, we did get in funks. But we pulled out of them because we were a smart team. We never let things slide too long, and when we needed to win the big games, we always did. So we built a trust and belief from that over the course of the year. Then we bought in and had that built into our psyche for the playoffs. We felt good about our chances, and we knew we could come back and would come back."
Recchi had the same feeling against the Canucks.
"We knew that we didn't play well in the first two games and everybody was talking about how well they played," Recchi recalled. "But we knew if we played well and played our game that we were going to win games, and we went out and did that in four of the games. In three of the games, we didn't play as well as we could have, and it cost us.
"But at the same time, every time we played our game, we killed them and that was pretty typical of our team. We felt very comfortable in those games, and once we even got down in the series, we were still comfortable enough where we knew we'd go home and beat them and bring the series back tied each time. Then Game 7, our backs are against the wall still but [there was] a lot of pressure against them, too, in Vancouver. We hadn't played well there yet, and I still really believed we could, and we did."
As Recchi looks ahead to life after his playing days -- he's considering pursuing a job in management, specifically player development -- he still treasures the fact that he came back for another year and was part of the team that ended the Bruins' 39-year Stanley Cup drought.
"It's amazing," Recchi said. "Obviously an Original Six team and then 39 years without a Cup, it's just incredible to be able to say you were a part of ending that drought. It's just something you will never forget and Boston will never forget.
"I just hope they keep building on this for the future, and I think they can because there is a good team in place here and they're going to be good for a long time. But I am proud to be a part of that, and like I've said before, and I wasn't kidding, that was one of the best groups I've ever played with."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.