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Ex-Penguins star Mark Recchi flourished in variety of roles on way to Hockey Hall of Fame

| Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017, 7:39 p.m.
The Penguins' Mark Recchi (left) congratulates Sidney Crosby after his first NHL goal in the second period against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005.
The Penguins' Mark Recchi (left) congratulates Sidney Crosby after his first NHL goal in the second period against the Boston Bruins on Saturday, Oct. 8, 2005.
Mark Recchi played for the Penguins and the Flyers during his NHL career.
Mark Recchi played for the Penguins and the Flyers during his NHL career.

Mark Recchi broke into the NHL at the end of the 1980s, when the league was studded with freewheeling scorers. Defenses clamped down over the next two decades, but they couldn't stop Recchi from becoming a star — and, eventually, a Hall of Famer.

Recchi collected 1,533 points, which ranks 15th on the NHL's all-time list. Over seven seasons with the Penguins, he scored 154 goals and won the first of his three Stanley Cup rings.

Pick a role, and Recchi filled it. A grinder. A pest in front of the net. A 50-goal scorer. A wingman for Mario Lemieux.

“I think I could have played in any era,” said Recchi, a Penguins assistant coach. “I love the game, I love to practice and prepare. I was always ready, so no matter what type of style was going to be played, I felt I could play any which way.”

The final payoff for his 22 superb seasons will come Monday, when Recchi is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, Dave Andreychuk, Danielle Goyette, Clare Drake and Jeremy Jacobs also will be honored.

“I've been so busy, I really haven't (thought about the induction),” Recchi said. “I think it will hit me this weekend, especially Monday. It's going to be special to be part of that group. I never could have imagined when I started playing as a young kid that I'd be in this situation.”

Recchi will be excused from the Penguins' road games this weekend against the Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators so he can gather with friends and family in Toronto.

“But I'll be checking the scores,” he said after Thursday's morning skate.

Drafted in the fourth round in 1988 by the Penguins, Recchi made his debut against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. In Game 6 of the 1991 Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Bruins, Recchi scored the winning goal with four minutes to play.

“That one always seems to stick out at me because it propelled us to the Stanley Cup Finals,” Recchi said. “It was a special moment in a young career.”

Recchi is the seventh player from the Penguins' first Cup-winning team to be enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He will join Lemieux, Ron Francis, Bryan Trottier, Paul Coffey, Joe Mullen and Larry Murphy.

Recchi was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers in 1992, then was dealt to the Montreal Canadiens in '95.

Ten years later, Recchi rejoined the Penguins and found himself on a line with a rookie named Sidney Crosby.

“For a young guy like me coming in, it was good to have guys like him around,” Crosby said. “I think he played every position on the power play that year and played on the point a lot. He had a great shot. Just really good hockey sense. He could really do it all. It's cool to be able to say I played with him.”

Notes: Crosby has not scored in nine games, the second-longest goal drought of his career. “Usually when you get asked about it, it means you're close to putting one in,” Crosby said with a laugh. “Hopefully, that's a good sign for me. There's been some chances there, some posts and things like that, but I can generate a little bit more. I can be more consistent. That's probably the biggest thing.” … The Penguins have dropped four of their past six games but are eager for Friday's showdown against the Capitals. “We have a lot of good memories there from last year, when we won that Game 7 (in the second round of the playoffs),” right wing Patric Hornqvist said. “It's always fun playing against Washington. There's a lot of intensity and a lot of rivalry, too.”

Rob Biertempfel is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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