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Recchi standing tall

05.02.10 at 2:06 pm ET
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It is always fun to see the diminutive players take on the those of elevated physical stature. Smaller players, by definition, have to be scratchy, buckle-up-your-bootstraps type of guys if they want to survive in professional sports. It is not a matter of talent; often the smaller players are more talented than their larger peers and thus pack more talent per square inch into the smaller package. It is akin to pundits saying that Shaquille O’Neal was never a very talented center but was just so physically dominant that he became unguardable.

One of the smallest guys in the Bruins locker room (and also the oldest) is forward and future Hall of Fame member Mark Recchi. In Game 1 against the Flyers on Saturday he had lost his helmet in front of the crease and found himself face-to-chest with towering Philadelphia defenseman Chris Pronger. The defenseman is listed at 6-foot-6 while Recchi is quite generously on the roster at 5-10 (probably more like 5-7 or so, maybe a tad taller). Recchi did not like the extra juice with which Pronger hit him at the end of the play and gave the blueliner a big push to let to show his displeasure.

“It is just the way Mark Recchi has played for us all year,” B’s coach Claude Julien said. “I think we talk about him being a good example, and that is another one besides his work ethic and commitment. He has just gone in there and it is all about business. We know that Chris Pronger takes liberties with players at times, and at one point you have got guys pushing back and that is what [Recchi] decided to do.”

For his part, Recchi did not really think much of the fracas. He was served with roughing and cross-checking penalties, and Pronger took two for a cross check.

“It is part of it,” Recchi said. “It is the playoffs. That is the way goes. You know, he is a competitive guy, we all are. Whether it is him or whatever. You try to create space and try what it takes to win games, and he is going to do that, and there is a reason that he has won championships because he does what it takes. It is just us going out there and playing and it is really no big deal.”

This is an interesting series for Recchi, who served two separate stints with the Flyers, the first from the 1991-92 season until 1994-95, when he was traded to the Canadiens in midseason. Montreal then traded him back to Philadelphia in the middle of the 1998-99 season and he stayed there until 2003-04. He won a championship with the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

“Yeah, I played the longest there and Philly is a great town and very similar to Boston, a great sports town,” he said. “Great place to live and I really enjoyed my time there. I ended up winning a Cup a couple of years later so it worked out. Everything happens for a reason.”

The 42-year-old Recchi may be one of the oldest players in the NHL, but even he would be hard-pressed to give specific details on the last time the Bruins and Flyers met in the playoffs in 1978, when he was 10 years old and living in British Columbia. That does not mean he is not unwilling to help write a new chapter in the rivalry.

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