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Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mark Recchi, 41, refuses to show his age

Lightning wing Mark Recchi, battling the Sabres’ Paul Gaustad for the puck during a game in December, is third on the team in points — trailing Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier.

DIRK SHADD | Times

Lightning wing Mark Recchi, battling the Sabres’ Paul Gaustad for the puck during a game in December, is third on the team in points — trailing Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier.

Sometimes, Mark Recchi said, the life of a 41-year-old professional athlete isn't all it's cracked up to be.

"Some days, it gets a little, you know," said Recchi, who went on to describe an occasional reluctance "to go and do my 25 sprints and feel like pukin'. "

The results, though, must make Recchi feel it is worth it.

The Lightning right wing's 35 points and 24 assists are third on the team behind Marty St. Louis and Vinny Lecavalier.

He plays the point on the power play, kills penalties and has two goals and 12 points in his past 13 games.

"And he's different than most older guys in that he still has his hands," coach Rick Tocchet said.

In other words, Recchi has value, especially, perhaps, for a playoff team looking to acquire a spark plug or a veteran leader.

Recchi knows this discussion is coming. Tampa Bay's postseason chances are ostensibly, if not mathematically, finished thanks to its current four-game losing streak, and the March 4 trade deadline is 26 days away.

He is potentially an unrestricted free agent. And, who knows, Recchi might retire at the end of the season. It makes sense for the Lightning to explore what he could fetch, especially from teams that might be willing to overpay to fuel a Stanley Cup run.

"It's going to be their choice," said Recchi, who in 2006 was dealt from the Penguins to the Hurricanes and helped Carolina win the Cup with seven goals and 16 points in 25 playoff games.

"I'm happy with things and the organization. I'm hoping we can make a strong push that will keep me with the team. But they can move me if they want. It's up to them. I'm not going to say one way or another."

In the meantime, the future Hall of Famer, in his 20th season, will continue putting his mark on the record book. Recchi is tied with Frank Mahovlich for 29th all time with 533 goals. His 1,416 points are four behind Adam Oates for 15th, his 1,462 games are 16th, his 883 assists are 20th.

Asked what is most impressive about Recchi, rookie Steven Stamkos said, "I think it's, what doesn't impress you?

"He brings so much energy to the team. He hits. He's got a great shot, great vision. To see what he brings to the table at such a late stage in his career is unbelievable."

Recchi, who is one of the team's quickest skaters and averages 16:51 of ice time, said the key is getting enough rest, and Tocchet has been good about giving Recchi days off from practice here and there.

"He's a pretty competitive guy," Tocchet said. "I think until the day he retires he'll always want to be out there. I wish I had the luxury of giving Recs a day off to save him down the stretch. But he's producing, so how do you sit him out?"

As for the future, Recchi said he won't make any decisions until the summer.

"Getting to the rink and playing, that's the fun part," he said. "The hardest part is the training to get ready. You have to be mentally ready to do that."

No matter for whom one is playing.

Notes: Forward Jussi Jokinen cleared waivers but was not immediately assigned to the minors. … Defenseman Andrej Meszaros, hurt Wednesday against the Penguins, is day to day with an injury thought to be to his left arm. Goalie Mike Smith (upper body), who general manager Brian Lawton has said is expected to be in the lineup Saturday against the Islanders, remains day to day.

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

Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Mark Recchi, 41, refuses to show his age 02/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, February 5, 2009 10:45pm]
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