Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Age makes Lightning's Recchi, Roberts wiser

Lightning forwards Gary Roberts, 42, left, and Mark Recchi, 40, work on a drill on the opening day of training camp.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning forwards Gary Roberts, 42, left, and Mark Recchi, 40, work on a drill on the opening day of training camp.

TAMPA — As sprints go, the ones done Tuesday by the Lightning weren't quite "suicide drill" quality, but they weren't a walk in the park either.

A couple of trips up and down the St. Pete Times Forum ice at the end of an hourlong practice certainly got the legs burning.

So, when wings Gary Roberts, 42, the second-oldest NHL player under contract, and Mark Recchi, 40, the fourth oldest, led their groups to the finish, it became perhaps the most important teaching moment of the first day of training camp.

"We've got to lead by example," Recchi said. "We have to be the hardest workers. That's very important for us. We have a lot of young guys here. You have to lead the right way. You've got to show them."

You would think their resumes would be enough.

Roberts, in his 22nd season, has 434 goals and a Stanley Cup with the 1989 Flames. Recchi, in his 20th season, has 522 goals and Cups with the '91 Penguins and 2006 Hurricanes.

But Roberts said on a new team, with a new coach, nothing should be taken for granted.

"No matter if you're 20 or 40, you're trying to earn your spot," he said. "By no means is anything given to you. So, you work all summer and try to prepare so you're able to do those drills and keep up."

"That's why we want them," coach Barry Melrose said. "We want our young players around these guys."

Roberts and Recchi set a high bar before even hitting the ice.

Strength coach Kevin Ziegler said both "will be at the top" of the team when he evaluates Tuesday's off-ice fitness tests.

"They can compete with anybody in the National Hockey League," Ziegler said. "That's why they've played so long. They came in prepared and did a great job. They're leaders for the young guys in here."

Rookie Steven Stamkos agreed: "They're 40-plus years old and still working as hard as anyone in the gym. It's definitely two guys you want to follow in their footsteps."

Roberts said that in the past his summer conditioning program depended on weaknesses he detected during a season. After a 2007-08 in which he played just 38 games because of a broken leg, a bad ankle and groin and pneumonia, "I didn't try to be anything but a hockey player."

He said he skated more, lifted more, got twice-weekly, three-hour messages to stay limber, and reduced his thickly muscled 6-foot-2 frame from 215 pounds to between 202 and 205.

"Hopefully, that's going to help me keep up a little bit more but also give me enough mass where I can still play that physical style I need to be successful," Roberts said. "The key is maintenance. Years ago, I would have been in there riding the bike and lifting and trying to maintain. Now, I'm getting off the ice, getting a message, getting my stretching in and calling it a day."

Recchi, 5-10, 195, who had 14 goals, 48 points last season for the Penguins and Thrashers, said he added Pilates to his regular routine of distance running for conditioning, and sprints and plyometrics for explosiveness.

"I come to camp to prove myself every year," he said. "I never had the attitude I should be handed something. I always had the attitude I'm going to earn my job and my ice time and earn the respect of my teammates."

A lesson that works at any age.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at cristodero@sptimes.com.

Age makes Lightning's Recchi, Roberts wiser 09/16/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 17, 2008 8:59pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Ryan Callahan encouraged by his return

    Blogs

    Captain Steven Stamkos wasn't the only key Lightning player to make a triumphant return Friday night against Nashville.

  2. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Friday's Rays-Orioles game

    The Heater

    RHP Alex Cobb hates to hear how he "battled through" or "grinded out" a start rather than just dominated, but that's kind of what he did Friday, allowing nine hits and a walk and being charged with two wild pitches but only three runs in earning his 12th win.

  3. Lightning's Steven Stamkos looks close to top form in first game since November

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — The wait felt like forever for Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, having gone 10 months without playing in a game.

    A scramble in front of the Lightning goal has Matthew Peca, far left, and Erik Cernak, middle, helping out goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy during the third period of a 3-1 win against the Predators. Vasilevskiy, who made 29 saves, was “exceptional,” coach Jon Cooper says.
  4. Rays journal: Alex Cobb may have pitched last game in Rays uniform (w/video)

    The Heater

    BALTIMORE — RHP Alex Cobb pitched well enough to lead the Rays to an 8-3 win over the Orioles on Friday.

    Wilson Ramos gives thanks after hitting a grand slam during the second inning, putting the Rays up 4-0.
  5. Ww's Odessabeach makes run at Husker Magic stakes final

    Parimutuels

    ST. PETERSBURG — When Hurricane Irma blew through Florida earlier this month, Ww's Odessabeach remained in her comfort zone.