New Blue Jackets Assistant Coach Mark Recchi: "I Love Helping The Players"

By Coby Maeir on September 27, 2023 at 1:45 pm
Pittsburgh Penguins center Jake Guentzel (59) and center Sidney Crosby (87) and right wing Josh Jooris (16) look on from the bench as assistant coach Mark Recchi and head coach Mike Sullivan look on against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Maple Leafs beat the Penguins 5-2.
Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

1,652 games. 577 goals. 956 assists. 1,533 points. Three Stanley Cups. Hockey Hall of Famer. Those are just some of Mark Recchi's credentials as a player. Now, he's joining the Blue Jackets in his third stint as an assistant coach after stops in Pittsburgh and New Jersey. Blue Jackets head coach Pascal Vincent said Recchi will be working on the power play this season. 

The Blue Jackets signed Recchi to a two-year contract through the 2024-25 season, per The Athletic's Aaron Portzline, which aligns with the term on Vincent's contract. 

Power plays under Mark Recchi's coaching
Year (Team) PP% League Rank
2017-18 (PIT) 26.2% 1st
2018-19 (PIT) 24.6% 5th
2019-20 (PIT) 19.9% 16th
2020-21 (NJD) 14.2% 28th
2021-22 (NJD) 15.6% 28th
Average 20.1% 15.6

Vincent said Tuesday that Recchi will be able to relate to the Blue Jackets' star players. 

"But most importantly for me," Vincent said. "He's been in those players' shoes, [like] Johnny Gaudreau and Patrik Laine. You don't know how they feel every day going on the ice and I don't either, right? But Mark Recchi does, so when he speaks to them, there's a connection. He's been there. He's done that."

Recchi said that he and Vincent hit it off right away and that he's excited about the Blue Jackets roster which includes Gaudreau, Laine, Kent Johnson, Adam Fantilli, Kirill Marchenko, and others.

He also said that he'll take input from players regarding the power play and that they'll work on it together.

"Movement is going to be a big thing," Recchi said regarding the power play. "I know we've talked about that when it gets staggered, you're gonna have a tough time being successful. We've got lots of great pieces. It's exciting for me to be able to go and try and help them and work with them. We're in it 50/50 and I just want to help them get better."

Recchi said collaborating with the players is what he enjoys about coaching in the NHL.

"I love helping the players," Recchi said. "I love working with them. I love helping them in all aspects. I mean, it's about off-ice, on-ice. If you're not feeling good in the game, how do you help your team? There's more to it than just being a good player. There's lots of other aspects. I like to help the players in all areas, and not just the power play, [with] everything. I just want them to be successful. And I want to work with them and help them through it."

"And some guys need some help with that," Recchi continued. "And there's some guys that get it. And that's my job to figure out who needs it and who doesn't and then just continue to work."

As a former high-profile player, Recchi said he can use his experiences in that position to help Gaudreau and Laine, adding that he communicates well and thinks it's important to be positive and communicate with the players. 

He also said the players on the power play must be connected when talking about what he demands from that unit.

"You can have a couple of different looks," Recchi said. "Especially when you have a one-timer like [Laine's], teams will set up against him. So it's finding ways to get so that it doesn't get stagnant and they're not just [focusing] on [Laine]. When you have a weapon like that, it's a great thing to have, but now you [have] got to mobilize that and use different things."

Recchi added that quick puck movements are important and that he wants the team to attack before letting the penalty killers return to their position.

The players definitely know him and his credentials. Fantilli, who grew up a Bruins fan, showed Recchi a picture of them together when Fantilli was eight years old. 

"Oh man," Recchi, 55, said. "I'm really old."

He also spoke highly about Vincent and said his resume is impressive.

"He's earned [this head-coaching job]," Recchi said. "And he's paid his dues and I'm excited to be part of it with him."

The Blue Jackets power play in 2022-23 converted at an 18.3% rate, which ranked 26th in the NHL. Will Recchi's coaching improve that unit in 2023-24?