Last week during the GMs meetings in Boston, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman reportedly pulled aside Canadiens GM Pierre Gauthier and Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and instructed the teams to stick to hockey on Mar. 24 in Boston, essentially a plea to cool things off following the season-long escalation of hostilities between the clubs.
But, sadly, Chiarelli didn’t give a copy of the memo to Mark Recchi.
As if the heated Canadiens-Bruins rivalry needed any more fuel, former Hab Recchi went on Boston radio 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger and Mazz Show Wednesday and — prompted by the hosts of the program, Boston Herald columnist Michael Felger and Boston Globe writer Tony Massarotti (and someone named Jermaine) — accused the Canadiens of embellishing the severity of Max Pacioretty’s injury in an attempt to get Zdeno Chara suspended and charged Canadiens fans had their judgment clouded by the events of Mar. 8.
Listening to the entire interview, which you can do here, you can hear the hosts, prior to Recchi’s joining them, take a highly skeptical view of Pacioretty’s injuries. They clearly doubt Pacioretty was concussed, even though every concussion is different and, in some cases, athletes display no post-concussion symptoms whatsoever after being knocked out, as was the case with Pacioretty.
They also sneer at the concept that he could be back for the playoffs, even though five years ago, the Hurricane’s Erik Cole also suffered a non-displaced fracture of his vertebrae, on March 6, 2006, after being checked by Brooks Orpik (video), and was able to return in June during the Stanley Cup final.
And, they also cannot correctly pronounce “Gauthier.”
When Recchi came on, he joined their skepticism on the severity of Pacioretty’s injury, his evidence being that Pacioretty went to the movies five days after the incident. And the hosts led Recchi to say Montreal fans are so wrapped up in their team, unlike anyplace else, that their judgment on the incident “was clouded big time.”
The reaction against Recchi has been largely harsh, as it probably should be. Here’s a respected NHL veteran who misspoke, goaded by sports radio hosts whose main mission is to be as sensational as possible, grab and build their audience and, if they can whip it into an emotional frenzy, all the better. They used Recchi to reinforce the antagonism between the clubs and promote the local Boston view of what happened Mar. 8 as “the truth,” which is hardly less provincial and narrow-minded than what they self-righteously accuse Montrealers of displaying.
It’s not playing well in the world at large. “Mark Recchi” trended on Twitter for a while and — excluding the expected reactions from both Montreal and Boston or tweeps who are clearly fans of one of the teams — we found some real gems. Like Brandon Pickard, National Program Manager at Hockey Night in Canada’s Play On! – “Can’t believe Mark Recchi would question the severity of Pacioretty’s injury. Lost a lot of respect for him on that one.”
Ryan from Saskatchewan: “Mark Recchi is a dumbass. You realize people record things on the radio right Mark? Used to be a hero of mine when I was a kid. Yuck.”
Mike Harrington, Buffalo News: “Mark Recchi…holy moly….I bet he wouldn’t have been such a brave bigmouth if tomorrow’s game was in the Bell Centre rather than Boston.”
Mark from Michigan “Marc Recchi thinking Max Pacioretty embellished his injury??? You gotta be kidding me”
Victoria from Vancouver (who judging from her blog is a Canucks fan): “Dear Mark Recchi, I’ve had a concussion so severe I had a hairline fracture in my skull. I still could have watched a movie.”
The Bear (who says he loves Tuuka Rask): “You’re smarter than that Mark Recchi.”
The hilarious Toronto blogger Down Goes Brown quoted Recchi from the interview saying “I’ve been run into the turnbuckle probably 40 times in my career.” and commented “OK, this is all making more sense now.”
Sean from North Carolina: “What I’m saying is that (rabid Bruins TV announcer) Jack Edwards bit Mark Recchi on the arm yesterday, and look what happened.”
Joe Thistel, Director of Programming, NHL HOME ICE, XM 204/Sirius 208, “What was Mark Recchi thinking? Oh, he wasn’t thinking. Imagine how stupid he would sound if he had played this long without a helmet?”
Andrew (from Long Island): “I kind of wish someone would Zdeno Chara Mark Recchi. What an a——.”
Wayne Karl who writes the Hockey Business Report: “Now I get it, Mark Recchi has been in the league so long, he didn’t benefit from the media training that incoming players receive these days”
Caroline (from Pittsburgh. Or Minnesota): “Mark Recchi is such a twat.”
Heather (a Sabres fan from Tonawanda, NY): “Silly, Mark Recchi. Everyone knows the NHL doesn’t actually care about concussions. That’s no way to get someone suspended.”
Steve (from Calgary): “Please Mark Recchi, enlighten me. How exactly does one embellish a broken vertebra?”
Ryan (Leafs fan): “After listening to the audio, I sort of agree with Mark Recchi. Does that make me a bad person? … yeah, probably.”
And this one from Robin, a Habs fan out west that I just couldn’t ignore: “According to Mark Recchi, the jews faked the holocaust.”
Well, you get the idea. Of course, Recchi has supporters in the Twitter universe as well, but largely the response was negative and outraged. Adam Proteau, an editor at The Hockey News and one of the smartest young writers in the sport, theorized on Twitter that Recchi did this with some foresight “Give Mark Recchi credit for being a team player & saying what he did to take the heat off of Chara. Few are that ignorant without a plan.”
Maybe. Or maybe he just screwed up. Big time.