Former Flyer Recchi rides off into sunset

BOSTON -- As the Boston Bruins paraded around the TD Garden ice with the Stanley Cup one last time before handing it back over to its keepers at the Hockey Hall of Fame, there were a few players missing from the ceremony.

Tomas Kaberle was with his new team, Carolina, after brief stay with the Bruins that produced his first Stanley Cup ring.

Some of the Bruins newcomers, like Joe Corvo and Jordan Caron and Matt Bartkowski, were left in the locker room for the festivities.

But when captain Zdeno Chara lifted the Cup over his head and passed it to the next player in line, he handed it over to a balding man who is not even active in the NHL this season: Mark Recchi.

For the first time since 1987, Recchi’s name does not appear on any team’s opening night roster this season.

That’s because Recchi rode off into the sunset last June when he captured his third Stanley Cup at the ripe, old age of 43.

But there he was on the ice last night, in full uniform, to celebrate the accomplishment with his teammates.

It was fitting, then, for Recchi that the Bruins’ opponent last night was the Flyers - a team he spent parts of 10 seasons with during the course of his well-traveled career. Recchi spent 602 games in a Flyers uniform, more than any of his other 6 teams.

Recchi is 8th on the Flyers' all-time list with 627 points.

“It was great to get that last opportunity to go on the ice with the boys, and go on the ice, period, as an NHL player,” Recchi said. “When you [win it], I wasn’t really thinking about it and knowing this was going to be it.

“These last couple of days have been hard. It was an exciting day, but it was a sad day, too, at the same time.”

Recchi said he got “pretty choked up” when teammate Andrew Ference single him out and presented him with a old, tattered Bruins jacket that was purchased on eBay as a team prank. The jacket was handed out in the Bruins’ locker room to a different player after every game last season. Last night, Recchi was the final recipient.

“I had no idea that was coming,” Recchi said. “It meant a lot to our team. It was a very proud thing for the guys after the games. We were very proud of it.

“It’s going to stay here. We’re going to put it in a case here and put it where it belongs, right in the dressing room. Every time I come into the dressing room, I’ll see it and the guys will know what it’s all about.”

Recchi didn’t just return to the Bruins last season for a second year because he wasn’t sure what else to do with his life after hockey.

He came back to win. But he was also a productive player for the Bruins. He posted 14 goals and 34 assists for 48 points as a 43-year-old, where he captured the emotion of both a Boston fan-base and his younger peers in the locker room.

Recchi said had the Bruins not won, he would have come back for a 23rd season.

Recchi never got a chance to celebrate his 2006 Stanley Cup victory under Peter Laviolette because he moved on to the Penguins during that summer.

Now, he has the perfect exit. He is the only player in NHL history to win 3 Stanley Cups with 3 different teams. He said he will continue to work out, possibly work in television as a hockey analyst, coach his son and “drink a lot of wine.”

“It was the last time I’ll be on the ice as an NHL player,” Recchi said. “Between juniors and now it’s been 26 years of going at it. I need to take a break and hang out with my kids.”

FLYERS NOTES: The Philadelphia market received a 4.51 HH rating and was the highest local-rated regular season Flyers game in Philly ever on VERSUS, beating the Philadelphia/Washington game on 3/22/11 (3.55).

The game was +36% from last year’s Game 1 in the market (3.32) and +63% from the Flyers’ 2010/11 regular-season average in the market on VERSUS (2.76).

The Flyers will practice in Newark, N.J., on Friday at 2 o’clock in preparation for Saturday night’s game at the Devils.

For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @DNFlyers

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