BOSTON -- One of the highlights of the Bruins' Stanley Cup banner raising ceremony Thursday night prior to their 2-1 loss to the Flyers in the season opener was when Andrew Ference took the podium and presented retired former teammate Mark Recchi with the jacket the Bruins awarded to the player they believed to be the MVP of each game last year. It was an emotional moment for the veteran of 21 seasons and three-time Stanley Cup champion.
The ritual started late last season and continued throughout the playoffs. Recchi had been given the jacket after Game 7, when he registered an assist in what would be his last NHL game.
“It meant a lot to our team. It was a very proud thing for the guys after games, and we were very proud of it,” Recchi said. “When Andrew brought it in and we started it, it was a special thing, and to be able to get it last in Vancouver and then get it repeated tonight, in front of your home crowd, is something I’ll never forget.”
For Ference it was an easy move to make since Recchi was such an inspirational leader to him and his teammates over the last two-plus seasons. As Ference pointed out, Recchi defined what the jacket symbolized and deserved to be the last one to wear it.
“He was a true professional and enjoyed coming to work every day and helping his teammates,” Ference said. “That’s the key to any job is just enjoy what you’re doing. He just really loved the game and then in the course of actually playing, the determination he showed and sometimes you wouldn’t even realize when you’re playing but you’d watch the highlights and see how hard he was battling in the corners and every night skating for the puck, he played beyond his age and like a little kid with all the enthusiasm he had. We strive to lead up to the bar that he sets. That’s what leaders do. Set a standard and put the bar out there and try and get everyone else to where they’re at.”
Recchi will not actually keep the jacket. Instead, it will be framed and hung in the Bruins dressing room.
“Actually, it’s going to stay here,” Recchi said. “We’re going to put it in a case here and put it where it belongs, right in the dressing room, somewhere in the dressing room. That’s where it belongs, and I want to keep it here. Every time I come into the dressing room, I’ll see it, and the guys will see it and know what it’s all about.”
For Recchi, that moment and the night as a whole was an exclamation point of sorts on a brilliant career. He said his feelings throughout the night and on Tuesday when he received his third Stanley Cup ring were bittersweet.
“Just a lot of emotions, really,” Recchi said. “It was great to get that last opportunity to go on the ice with the guys and go on the ice, period, as an NHL player. When you do it at the end, I wasn’t really thinking about it and [knowing] this was going to be it. These last couple days have been hard. It was an exciting day, but it was a sad day, too, at the same time. But it was so great to be out there with the guys. I had no idea that was coming, the jacket thing, so it got me pretty choked up. I love the guys, and they mean the world to me, and it was a great experience, to be here with them for that.”