‘He’s a natural’ – Penguins believe Recchi will thrive as assistant coach

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With one memorable former NHL’er-turned-coach now out of town as Rick Tocchet takes the Coyotes’ top gig, the Pittsburgh Penguins promoted another former notable in Mark Recchi to take Tocchet’s spot.

Recchi was already part of the mix in Pittsburgh, earning rave reviews for the way he helped Phil Kessel.

Management believes he’ll pass his next, broader test as an assistant with flying colors.

“He’s a natural when it comes to his ability to teach the game,” Head coach Mike Sullivan said. “I’ve watched him both on the ice and in the locker room, in meetings with players, and he’s a natural. So I really believe that he’s going to continue to foster those relationships that are so important to helping us grow as a team and more specifically, some of our individual players like Phil. I think Rex is going to do a great job in helping that process along.”

Recchi’s experience as a high-end player should give him “instant credibility” with the Penguins players he’ll aim to help.

It’s been quite the run for “Rex,”* who was also recently named as part of the next Hockey Hall of Fame class.

Naturally, with a prolific career like his, Recchi will also command some jeers alongside the wider calls of respect.

Many recall that he was christened “Dr. Recchi” after he made claims about Max Pacioretty following a controversial hit by Zdeno Chara late in his career. Recchi also ruffled a feather or two during his final run as a player with the Penguins, to the point that he needed to downplay a “rift” with Sidney Crosby.

Overall, it’s easy to see why Pittsburgh is thrilled to add him to the mix. If anything goes wrong, people will have some old punchlines to lean back on, however.

* – Since when was he no longer “The Reccing/Wrecking Ball?”