Chalk up another one for the old guys.
I couldn't help but cheer the news that 41-year-old Mark Recchi was returning to the NHL for another season with the Boston Bruins. I'm a big fan of the game's seasoned veterans, with venerable Chris Chelios being my poster boy, er, geezer.
In office pools at The Hockey News, I'm renowned for selecting the senior statesmen, partly because I appreciate their durability and productivity and partly because most of my work associates favor the teenagers and 20-somethings. (OK, another reason has to be I can refrain from feeling truly old until the day the game's only player older than me, 47-year-old Chelios, officially retires. Hang in there, Cheli.)
Recchi is a true survivor, a player who has modified his game from being a young set-up artist and support player with the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in the early 1990s, to a 50-goal scorer with the Philadelphia Flyers in the mid 1990s, to a two-way star with the Montreal Canadiens in the late 1990s, to a second-tier star with the Flyers and Penguins again in the early 2000s, to a hired gun with the Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes in 2006, to a crafty 60-point depth player with the Bruins and Lightning last season.
He has been traded five times for more than a dozen players and signed three times as a free agent during the course of his 21-season career.
Along the way, Recchi has been both spectacular and unflashy. He's a shadow of the skater he was in his early NHL days, but he has made up for it by using his foresight and cagey knowledge of the game and its players. So even at 41, he still provides a useful tool on one of the NHL's best teams. That'll probably be the case still if Recchi decides to keep it going at 42 in 2010-11.
Even if Recchi is moderately productive this season, he'll continue his methodical rise up the game's chart of all-time leaders. He'll surely finish the year 13th in all-time points somewhere near 1,500, 13th in all-time assists at well more than 900 and probably in the top 20 in goals at 560-plus. And in Recchi's 60th game this season, he'll pass Alex Delvecchio and into the top 10 all-time with 1,550.
Whether that makes Recchi a sure-fire Hall of Famer is a topic for another debate - he has won two Cups, been a second-team all-star once and never won an individual award. At $1 million this season and with what he has to offer a contender, he's a bargain for the Bruins. It's also a sure sign he isn't hanging on strictly for the bucks. Call it a case of a discount for a chance to go for a third Cup.
See you on hockey pool draft day, Mark.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior special editions editor and a regular contributor to THN.com. You can find his blog each weekend.
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