Recchi downplays rift with Crosby

| Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Mark Recchi and Sidney Crosby won't necessarily be running off to get matching "best friends forever" tattoos when Penguins training camp opens in September.

But Recchi said at the news conference officially announcing his signing with the Penguins on Tuesday that reports of a rift between him and the 18-year-old star last season were greatly exaggerated.

"I think it really got blown out of proportion," said Recchi, 38, who signed a one-year deal worth $2.28 million. "What is in the dressing room stays in the dressing room. Obviously I'm trying to help people out, trying to help these young guys get through things, and it's not always going to be a positive thing if I think there's something that needs to be addressed. But they're all great kids."

The stories about a divide opening between the Penguins' younger players and older players - and Recchi and Crosby in particular - started early in December. The team was spiraling out of control, coach Eddie Olczyk was about a week away from being fired and things were, in a word, bad.

The most widespread rumor was that Recchi thought Crosby's behavior, especially his penchant for talking back to the referees, wasn't befitting a rookie just two months into his NHL career. The extent to which words were exchanged on the subject varied depending on who was telling the story.

Recchi said he and Crosby spoke about the matter back when it first came out in the press.

"We straightened it out right then, and there were no issues, and I think (Crosby) said that," Recchi said.

But by the time the Penguins traded Recchi to the Carolina Hurricanes in March, he was nonetheless being called a locker-room cancer by some observers.

Recchi didn't get into specifics about what went on last year, but he stressed that he's spoken not only to Crosby but also to the team's other young players in recent weeks, and spent time with Crosby, Ryan Malone and Colby Armstrong at Mario Lemieux's golf tournament earlier this month.

According to Recchi, everything is fine.

"We've talked and I've seen the young guys, and there's no problems at all," he said. "They know I'm here to help them, and I told them that during the season. But I got kicked in the butt when I was young, too, by the older guys. I was with (Bryan) Trottier and Joey (Mullen) and some older guys who had won, and you were willing to listen. They helped you out. It was no big deal, and I don't think it was any big deal in our dressing room."

New general manager Ray Shero said that he and Recchi discussed the stories Shero read and heard last year and the relationship between the veterans and the younger players.

"That's one of the things we talked about, not so much about Sidney Crosby but just about the leadership and expectations," Shero said. "I've seen Mark Recchi play for 15 years, and I know players who've played with him. I know the leadership he brings on and off the ice. Last year was a real trying time for a lot of people, both on and off the ice. That's behind us. I had a conversation with Sidney Crosby, and one of the biggest supporters for Mark Recchi coming back was Sidney."

This is Recchi's third stint with the Penguins since they drafted him in 1988. Despite signing only a one-year deal, Recchi said he hopes to play well enough to be able to play at least another year beyond this one.

"I came here a couple years ago to help bring this organization back to where I thought it should be," Recchi said. "There's still some work to do, and I want to be part of that."

Additional Information:

Together again

The Penguins traded Mark Recchi to the Carolina Hurricanes in March, only to re-sign him on Tuesday for his third stint with the team. Here's a look at how that trade worked out:

March 9 - Penguins traded Recchi to Carolina and got forwards Krystofer Kolanos and Niklas Nordgren and a second-round pick in 2007 in return. Recchi had a two-way option on his contract for next year, in which the Hurricanes could choose to keep him for $2.28 million or he could choose to stay for $760,000.

June 26 - Penguins declined to qualify Kolanos, making him a free agent without having played a game for the Penguins in the NHL. They qualified Nordgren but learned that he planned to remain in Europe. They still own his rights.

July 20 - Penguins used the second-round pick to trade with the San Jose Sharks for forward Nils Ekman and goaltending prospect Patrick Ehelechner.

July 25 - Penguins signed Recchi to one-year deal for $2.28 million.

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