Monday, June 26, 2017

{allcanada} Mark Recchi says it's 'surreal' being elected to Hall of Fame


The Hockey Hall of Fame's media teleconference wasn't over more than five minutes Monday when a call to Mark Recchi's cell phone immediately went to his recorded "Hey there…" greeting.

It was little surprise when a recorded voice followed, saying that his mailbox "is full and cannot accept any more messages at this time."

Two hours later, with nearly 200 text messages choking his phone and enough voicemail to overflow it, Recchi took a call at his home in Pittsburgh, with a confession.

"I had put the phone down to play some knee-hockey with my son Brendan," he said, laughing. "He's 5, and he's relentless."

Recchi, a 49-year-old native of Kamloops, British Columbia, had earlier spoken of his Hall of Fame election as a "tremendous honor."

Now, as the Pittsburgh Penguins director of player development prepared to head out to celebrate the occasion with his parents, his wife and her parents at a family barbecue, he described the moment that he took the call from Hall of Fame chairman Lanny McDonald.

"I was at the Penguins practice rink (in Cranberry, Pennsylvania), going over free agency and what we're planning on doing going forward," Recchi said. "As soon as I saw the 416 (Toronto area code) on my phone, I jumped out of the room.

"I went back into this big meeting, sat down and totally didn't hear anything that went on for the next five minutes. My dad was at the rink, so the timing couldn't have been any better. I went out, grabbed him and gave him a big hug, called my wife, who was with my mother, then went upstairs to tell [Penguins general manager] Jimmy Rutherford and [hockey operations vice president] Jason Karmanos. The whole thing was just surreal."

Fifteen days earlier, Recchi had shuffled joyfully onto the ice at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, with the rest of the Penguins management team, to join the players who were celebrating a successful defense of their Stanley Cup championship.

A month before that, Recchi was delighted when his son Cameron was drafted by Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League. And a month before that came Recchi's induction into the British Columbia Hall of Fame, a street already named after him in Kamloops.

Now comes his election to the Hockey Hall of Fame, capping a gilt-edged year that he'll have a hard time topping, ever.

"And I got remarried in the past year too. It's been a really good year," Recchi said, laughing again. "It's incredible."

As a player, the battering-ram-tough Recchi won three Stanley Cup titles - with the Penguins in 1991, the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006 and the Boston Bruins in 2011, going out on top in a career that spanned 22 NHL seasons, having played 1,841 regular-season and postseason games.

Recchi enjoyed a distinguished career with seven NHL teams -- the Penguins, who selected him in the fourth round (No. 67) of the 1988 NHL Draft, followed by the Philadelphia Flyers, Montreal Canadiens, Hurricanes, Atlanta Thrashers, Tampa Bay Lightning and finally the Bruins.

And what a body of work. Recchi's 1,533 points (577 goals, 956 assists) are 12th in NHL history. All 10 retired players ahead of him on that list are in the Hall of Fame, the one still active -- Jaromir Jagr, who intends to play a 24th NHL season in 2017-18 -- surely headed in following his retirement.

Recchi holds an interesting record. On June 6, 2011, for the Bruins against the Vancouver Canucks, he became the oldest player in NHL history to score a goal in a Stanley Cup Final game, coming at age 43 years, 216 days.

Now, the only retired player with more than 500 goals and 1,500 points in the NHL who wasn't in the Hall has been welcomed to the shrine in his fourth year of eligibility.

He will have five months to prepare his induction speech, and he has a bit of an idea how he'll proceed, having heard many over the years and with countless coaches, friends and family members in his life who have been "great people and great role models along the way."

But on Monday, still digesting this remarkable day, there was more immediate concern about a slight change in the Recchi family barbecue menu.

"I think with the wine," he said, "there will be a little Champagne."

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