PITTSBURGH — When Claude Giroux became only the sixth Flyer to score 100 points in a season last Saturday, two names on the list stood out. One was Bobby Clarke, the iconic captain of their two Stanley Cup champions, who did it three times. The other was Mark Recchi, a Flyer in two stints with the club, who did it twice.
In his first season as a Penguins assistant coach, Recchi has his name on more Cups than any of the five other names, which is another way of saying that his allegiance has always been to the game more than any other sweater. Named to hockey's Hall of Fame in 2017, he won one here in Pittsburgh as a 22-year-old in 1990-91, won another with Peter Laviolette's Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06, and finished his career as a Cup champion with Boston as a 42-year-old in 2010-11.
But 65 of his 189 playoff games were played in a Flyers jersey, including their run to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference finals in 2000, which included an epic five-overtime game here won by the Flyers.
"Oh, always there's emotions when it comes to them,'' he said of the Flyers after Wednesday's morning skate. "I played a long time there."
So, he was asked, is this matchup, featuring the team that drafted him against the team he spent most of his career with, fun — or torture?
"Oh it's fun,'' he said. "You're around hockey, it's fun.''
Recchi began his post-playing career thinking he would stay in the game via the administration/operations route — as a scout, an executive. He was hired by Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford as a player development coach, but when Rick Tocchet, another guy with ties to both teams, took the head-coaching job in Arizona, Rutherford asked Recchi if he would like to replace him.
"I didn't see myself doing it until Jim called me,'' he said. "Hadn't put a lot of thought into it.
"But this has been a great experience. I've learned a lot. The day-to-day managing of players these days is a full-time gig.''
And one that has given him a perspective he didn't have as a player. Recchi had a lot of coaches in his 22 seasons, not all of whom he meshed with. Now 50, remembering his former player self, he said, "Helps a lot.''
He was laughing while he said it.
So he's a coach now, he was asked?