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Mackey: Billy G and a Recchin’ Ball


Bill Guerin and Mark Recchi don’t have much in common — on paper, anyway.

One’s a 6-foot-3 American, the other a 5-10 Canadian.

Though they combined to play 2,915 NHL games, Guerin and Recchi never once played together.

This week, however, the Penguins hired Recchi to succeed Guerin as player development coach, and the two — who presumably talked a time or two during their lengthy careers — took turns generating laughs following Saturday’s development camp-ending scrimmage at Consol Energy Center.

“He’s going to be my mentor,” Recchi said of Guerin, who was promoted to assistant general manager last month. “I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”

Speaking five minutes later in the same spot inside the Penguins’ locker room, Guerin cracked, “He’s a good friend, and he has so much to offer. I think he played 40 years in the league.”

Seriously, though, Guerin thinks Recchi will be perfect for the role.

Recchi is a three-time Stanley Cup winner and mentored several younger players while playing for the Boston Bruins’ Cup-winning squad in 2011.

“I think he’s going to be great,” Guerin said. “Mark’s fantastic with younger players. Obviously what he did later in his career with the Bruins … he was invaluable with that team teaching that group how to win. I think Mark is going to do a terrific job. We’re excited to have him on board. I know I am.”

Recchi insisted that Saturday was the first time he could truly do much evaluating, spending the afternoon behind the bench.

He expects to become much more familiar with the players within the Penguins’ system between now and training camp in late September.
Part of that involves “getting on the computer and getting in contact with all these young guys.”

More will come at the 2014 Rookie Tournament in London, Ontario from Sept. 13-16.

“I know they’re excited about some young prospects,” Recchi said. “We’ll keep working with them and make them into better ones. That’s the important thing.”

Part of Recchi’s new job will require him to teach hockey skills, but he views it as something more. Mental preparation is important. So is consistency. All parts of adjusting to life as a pro.

“There’s stuff on the ice that you can teach them, but a lot of it is going to be teaching them how to be a pro, on and off the ice,” Recchi said. “That’s something of the stuff that Billy’s been talking about.”



He shined in his meeting with reporters.

Asked about right wing Adam Payerl, Guerin responded: “His nickname is ‘Beast’ and for good reason. He’s a mountain of a man. The more he can be in front of the net, the less goalies can see. He’s got a good skill level. We push him to have a good mix between physical game and being able to make plays. Adam’s a very capable guy.”

Besides Payerl, Guerin praised right wing Kasperi Kapanen and defenseman Jeff Taylor — while the latter was getting dressed a few feet away.

“He really stuck out,” Guerin said. “And, oh, there he is right there. Didn’t even see him.”

Guerin paused.

“He’s got terrible fashion sense, but he plays a good, smart game.”

We all crack up.

“That sucks that you’re right there,” Guerin continued. “Edit that out.”





Author: Rob Rossi

Rob Rossi is the lead sports columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has been called many names, but “Rossi” is the one to which he most often responds. He joined the Trib in November 2002 and was promoted to the columnist role in July 2014. Previously, he had covered the NHL’s Penguins (2006-14) and MLB’s Pirates (2006), while also working on beats associated with the NFL’s Steelers (2005-06) and the NCAA’s Pitt (2004-06). He has won national and local awards for his coverage of youth concussions and athletes’ charities. Also, he is a member of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association executive committee and the Pittsburgh chapter chair. Raised in Crafton and Green Tree and a graduate of West Virginia University, he has covered a Super Bowl, All-Star Games in baseball and hockey, the NCAA basketball tournament and over 100 Stanley Cup playoff games, including the Cup Final twice. Oh, and his sports reporting has led him to brief chats with Mick Jagger and Bruce Springsteen; so that’s pretty cool. He is a regular contributor on TV with WPXI, Root Sports Pittsburgh and TSN. Also, he is the authorized biographer of Penguins star Evgeni Malkin.

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