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Penguins' Recchi tries hand at ownership

Monday, Oct. 15, 2007

Mark Recchi will never make like good friend Mario Lemieux and play for the team he owns.

However, Recchi is close to owning a part of the team for which he once played.

Recchi and teammate Darryl Sydor comprise part of an ownership group that was approved by the Western Hockey League to take control of the Kamloops Blazers, a British Columbia-based junior club whose sweater each player previously donned.

Joining Recchi and Sydor in their ownership group are current NHL stars Jarome Iginla and Shane Doan and Vancouver-based businessman Tom Gaglardi, who is also attempting to purchase the Canucks.

"It is going to be fun," Recchi said. "I grew up (in Kamloops). Everybody in this group has great ties there. We kind of want to restore the pride."

When the sale of the Blazers closes later this month, the team will operate under private stewardship for the first time since 1984, when community-based Kamloops Blazers Sports Society purchased it from the Edmonton Oilers.

That purchase was made to keep the Blazers in Kamloops. Sydor said his group plans to go beyond just preserving the franchise for his adopted hometown.

"There was a certain way it was run, and the club had some great years when I was there," Sydor said of days with the Blazers from 1988-92. "I want to get back to that mentality."

During Sydor's time with Kamloops, he played under Ken Hitchcock. Those two helped Dallas win the Stanley Cup in 1999.

Sydor credited the lessons learned while with the Blazers for helping him to craft a style that has allowed him to play into a 16th NHL season.

"It goes back to your experience from a young age," Sydor said. "I learned from other guys in Kamloops. Bob Brown was the (general manager). Ken Hitchcock was the coach. Being brought up in that type of lifestyle, it really shaped me as a player and person."

The Blazers are not now what they were in the 1990s, when they won the Memorial Cup on three occasions. In fact, their fall upon hard times has proven difficult for alumni such as their new owners to watch for most of this century.

"Four or five years back Mark had this golf tournament in Kamloops, and he mentioned how the team was not doing too well," Sydor said. "We threw around the idea how it would be nice to own a junior team after hockey, especially one that meant a lot to us."

Recchi and Sydor formed a group that put in a bid for the Blazers a few years ago, but that offer was rebuffed. They were not deterred, and their new group was approved by a community-based vote of 80 percent, Recchi said.

"It just seems to make sense," Recchi said. "My family is still there. When I am done playing I will spend a lot more time up there. I am looking forward to it, actually."

Kamloops can expect Recchi to mold his ownership style in the form of Lemieux, who is seen but rarely heard by Penguins officials.

"I will be a lot like him," Recchi said. "He is pretty hands-off.

"But we are going to address a lot of things in the next couple of months and in the summer. We are going to try to get it turned around."




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