Mark Recchi has known Brad Marchand for almost 10 years now and saw him in some of his most unvarnished moments as No. 63’s linemate during his rookie, Cup-winning season.
“He was a fireball. A little nuts and once he got close [to the edge] you’d be like ‘OK, back off now… you’re good.’ He was great. He’s such a terrific player and a great kid. It was fun to be a part of that,” said Recchi. “He made the game enjoyable for an old guy. He had all that spunk and he’d get me fired up. It was good. It was easy to rein him in. You just needed to talk him a little bit.”
The 52-year-old Hall of Famer couldn’t help but laugh when apprised that of his thoughts about veteran teams being in trouble when the 2019-20 hockey season resumes.
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Marchand said last month that veteran teams — like the Bruins, who have the third-oldest team in the NHL — “are going to struggle” when the league finally starts play back up again.
The Little Ball of Hate’s presumption is that the only teams that will get an advantage will be either A) teams with returning injured players like Steve Stamkos on Tampa Bay or B) high-skill hockey teams with younger skaters like the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Bruins had the fourth-oldest roster at the outset of the 2019-20 season with an average age of 28.5 years old, so naturally Marchand is setting it up as a potential hurdle for the Black and Gold entering the postseason after possibly four months between playing games. Recchi, now an assistant coach with a Penguins team taking part in the play-in round of games, laughed off the Marchand theory as typical gamesmanship from the expert B’s agitator.
“We’re old? Yeah. OK. He’s making them underdogs,” said Recchi, with a big laugh during a Zoom call with Kevin Paul Dupont, James Murphy and yours truly. “They are such pros there. With the group of guys that they have there, they are going to be fine for sure.
"It all depends. I look at our team and our older guys are extremely hard workers and extremely fit, so it’s going to come down to a mental battle at that point. It will be a mental battle of who can push through this, push through playing with no fans in the stands and get excited about playing. I think mentally that’s going to be a huge thing, and the teams that can push through that are going to have a huge advantage for sure.”
Here are the Marchand comments for those that missed them the first time around.
“I don’t think [the layoff] is going to help anybody," Marchand said in a virtual town hall with Bruins season-ticket holders. "The only ones it’s going to help is teams with players that had significant injuries. Just look at [Steven] Stamkos, who was injured and guys like that. Now they have the time to regroup and get healthy.
But it’s not going to help any teams that were playing well at the time. Maybe a few days [of rest] might have been good, but when guys are taking a few months, it’s going to hurt everyone.
“You can’t skate, keep your conditioning up or keep up your skills. It’s going to hurt everybody. Everybody is going to be sloppy," Marchand said. "I think the only teams that are going to come back and look good are the really young teams like Toronto or Tampa. The really high-end skilled teams are just going to have the legs and be able to get it back quick. Older teams are going to struggle.”
So is Marchand genuinely concerned about the old legs of the Bruins being ready to bounce back when games presumably start getting played in July, or is he playing possum with a B’s group that will have their eyes on the prize once the hockey season resumes?