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Penguins Recchi on Cup Asterisk and Dangers of June Draft Trades

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Pittsburgh Penguins Mark Recchi Mike Sullivan

There has been some debate among NHL fans that the 2020 Stanley Cup should have an asterisk. After the NHLPA approved the 24-team tournament with play-in series, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will hand the Stanley Cup to a team that wins a tournament, which began at least four months after the NHL suspended the season due to a global pandemic. And the Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach wouldn’t mind preserving the unique moment for history.

No, Recchi doesn’t subscribe to the sour thinking, which wants to affix the asterisk to the Cup winner because it is tainted or a lesser accomplishment. Quite the opposite.

Mark Recchi appeared on a Zoom call with NBC Sports Boston writer Joe Haggerty, Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe, and Jimmy Murphy of Boston Hockey Now, this weekend.

“We’ll view it as unique. You can view it two ways: You can put an asterisk beside it and say it shouldn’t have been done, or you can think, you know what, you are Stanley Cup champions,” Recchi said. “When it comes down to it, and you’re playing for that Stanley Cup, it’s going to be the same intensity.”

The same intensity is a key phrase. Former Pittsburgh Penguins assistant GM, Bill Guerin, expressed a similar sentiment on the adversity of an NHL return last month.

“Let’s wrap our arms around it … let’s do it,” Guerin said.

The 2020 season will forever be remembered, not for its outcome but that there will (in all probability) be an outcome. The world faced a pandemic against a virus that spread like wildfire. It frightened even the most indifferent.

In the years to come, that fight over opening or staying closed will be long forgotten, buried under an avalanche of new conflicts and divisions. What will be remembered are the struggles. The struggles to see loved ones and friends, to pay bills, or even to buy toilet paper.

“I think it would be pretty fun to have that asterisk and say, ‘You know what, this is what happened,” the Penguins assistant coach said. “You can tell your kids, it was a pandemic, and this what we had to do, and we found a way to be the best team in the world.”

Interesting take, isn’t it?

Let’s put the asterisk not to demean but to remember. Not acknowledge its departure from the norm, but to celebrate it. Treat the asterisk as a mark of achievement.

That’s certainly different than other asterisks in history, such as the mark affixed to Roger Maris’ 61 home runs in 1960, which MLB Commissioner Ford Frick suggested because there were more regular-season games in 1960 than when Babe Ruth set the original record in 1929.

Even Wikipedia defines sports asterisks as to “Indicate the record is somehow tainted.”

But count me as one who likes Recchi’s optimism and willingness to embrace the situation. Also, count me as believing such perseverance and look-forward as necessary. The asterisk probably can’t be used because too many would not celebrate it, but use it to demean a rightfully crowned Stanley Cup champion.

Hopefully, a team that would have made the playoffs without a season stoppage will win the Stanley Cup, and we do not need to revisit this debate. Hopefully, one of the best teams in the NHL hoists that 35 pounds of silver. If a team like St. Louis Blues, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and or the Pittsburgh Penguins wins the NHL playoff tournament, the argument will dissipate.

Let’s root for that, for the good of the game.

Well, you don’t have to root for the Washington Capitals to win the Cup, but you get my point.

Mark Recchi also discussed the Pittsburgh Penguins coaches who have information cross share with coaches for an MLB team.

“We’ve been working on how they handle things, how they do things. It’s been tremendous. We’ve had some great dialogue about how they handle superstars, and how they handle keeping people together. It’s been really neat, Recchi said. “We’ve really tried to dive into some things as a coaching staff, and that’s what Coach Sullivan is great at — he just wants us to get better and keep working on things.”

And, I saved this one for last. Read into it what you will. I certainly took note regarding the June Draft proposal.

“You can make a deal and say, ‘Hey, we can stuff it in a drawer until we’re done here.’ But that always seems to find a way to get out, that’s never a good thing to happen. You’re in the middle of a playoff series, and then the rumors come up that [a player] has been traded to wherever for a first-rounder coming up,” Recchi said. 

Say with Pittsburgh, they wanted to make a trade for a pick with a player that deal could be done, but I think it’s a pretty risky way to go. There is too much there that could happen to hurt players in the long run.”

Yeah, read into that what you will.

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