If there was any evidence that the Rick Tocchet-to-Arizona talks had been all but done for a while now, it was that the Penguins announced within minutes of the Coyotes’ official announcement that Mark Recchi would be replacing him as one of Mike Sullivan’s assistant coaches. Recchi had already been working within the organization the past three years, so his hire was internal and clearly an easy decision for owner and former teammate Mario Lemieux and the Penguins.
Although Recchi has no coaching experience, there is little doubt that he will fit in well on the Penguins’ staff. Recchi will take over Tocchet’s exact same duties: working with the forwards and power play units. The recently-named Hockey Hall of Fame inductee knows those two areas as well as anyone. Recchi is a member of two elite NHL clubs, having scored over 500 goals and 1500 points in his career. 200 of those goals also came on the power play. An extremely intelligent and versatile player with 22 seasons of NHL experience, as both a top-line scorer and role player, 198 playoff games and Stanley Cups with three different teams, Recchi is one of the most knowledgeable people in hockey. While he hasn’t spent any time coaching, that’s also due to the fact that he played right up until the age of 42 in 2010-11, walking away after helping the Boston Bruins to a Stanley Cup. The perks of playing that long is that Recchi can both relate to the Penguins’ aging veterans, having been one himself, as well as their young players, having skated alongside the likes of Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin just over six years ago.
A fun fact about this announcement is that it is not the first time that Tocchet has been traded for Recchi. However, the first time it was Pittsburgh losing Recchi and gaining Tocchet. After leading the Penguins in scoring, and to a title, in 1990-91, young Recchi was traded at the 1992 Trade Deadline to the Philadelphia Flyers alongside Brian Benning and a first-round pick for Tocchet, who was in his prime at the time, Kjell Samuelsson, Ken Wregget, and a third-round pick. Recchi went on to have the better playing career, but we’ll have to wait and see which guy ends up on top in their coaching career. Tocchet certainly has a leg up, already on his second head coaching gig, but if Recchi stands for anything, it’s don’t count out the little guy.