About 20 years ago, Pittsburgh Penguins teammates Mark Recchi and Jay Caufield started doing some plyometric workouts and drills for explosiveness during the offseason.
Now both men still do those same workouts every August, except Caufield is long retired and Recchi is about to begin yet another NHL season this fall at the ripe age of 42 with the Bruins.
“If you work at it and you find that you get success, then you stick with it,” Caufield recently told TheBruinsBlog.net when asked about his workout buddy’s regimen. “He’s just taken it to another level, every year right up until this point this year.”
Recchi, who re-signed with Boston earlier this summer for a second straight year to a one-year deal, will enter the 2010-11 season within striking distance on the all-time charts of fourth in games played, the top 20 in goals, the top 13 in assists and already ranks 13th in points. That didn’t mean he was 100 percent convinced he would come back for another season when the Bruins’ most recent season came to a crashing halt.
“That first run, when I came back, I just about called [general manager] Peter [Chiarelli] and told him I’m done. About halfway through my run,” Recchi joked about how he felt at the outset of his offseason routine.
By his off-ice casual appearance and diminutive stature (he’s listed at 5-foot-10, 195 pounds), you’d never know Recchi is a workout fiend. His body’s more Barney Rubble than Lance Armstrong or even Zdeno Chara. However, there might be no one that works harder – and his offseason regimen hasn’t lessened in his twilight years.
After about a month off after the final horn sounded to end the Philadelphia playoff series, Recchi, who splits his summer time between Boston and Pittsburgh (where his kids live), got into his routine.
“Basically it’s all explosive and sprint stuff. A lot of legs, a lot of core,” Recchi explained to TheBruinsBlog.net one day earlier this month. “Basically, that’s just my workout. The first month is just basically long runs and doing some weights, building some strength up. Now, the last 10 days, with usually two months left, I start doing my sprint workouts on my treadmill to build the fast-twitch muscles, and do a ton of that stuff. And then explosive stuff with weights and jumping and agility stuff.”
Recchi works out five days a week and around two hours a day. He subscribes to the theory of quality over quantity, and he has been doing these workouts for so long he can go harder over a short period time and get as much as possible out of them.
Since the early-90s Stanley Cup-winning days in Pittsburgh not much has varied in the routine.
“There are always adjustments every summer. You learn to do a new exercise or maybe something you think can help you and kind of go from there,” said Recchi. “Overall, it’s basically been the same routine. My sprints and explosive stuff, that’s what’s kept me in the game. So it kept me ahead of the curve. I’m not doing anything different than a lot of young guys now. They train so much better than when we grew up. It works for me, and at this point I can still keep up with them, still push them and I think I still have a real good will to do what it takes to make myself for September.”
While he keeps himself motivated for most of the month of July, Recchi said that any of the leg exercises fill him with a bit of tread before he gets them done. One in particular involves putting 135 pounds on his shoulders with a spot bar and then exploding up in the air as high as he can go. Just typing that makes this writer ache.
“I don’t feel very good when I’m done. It’s hard. But at the same time, it’s rewarding because I know it’s going to help me,” said Recchi.
Even a future Hall-of-Famer like Recchi needs a little extra something to push him once the dog days of August arrive. That’s where Caufield comes in. Ever since his playing days ended, Caufield has found time in the midst of his schedule of doing the Penguins’ postgame show on Fox and running his credit card company to skate and train some of the biggest stars in the NHL, including many of the Penguins players (Sidney Crosby included). When Recchi gets out on the ice to take his next step toward his 22nd NHL season, it gives his former teammate another chance to marvel at the effort that’s created a rare player that can combine longevity and effectiveness into one package with a No. 28 on his back.
“I don’t know if anybody thought they’d still be playing at these age levels, but he certainly was a guy that you knew he had the heart, the desire, the tenacity. And then he’s so smart,” Caufield explained. “I think if you look at every shift he plays, something’s happening and he makes it always for the good. I don’t that you could’ve said he’d be playing at this age, but you knew he’d have a long career.”
For 81 games plus playoffs last season, Recchi was definitely one of Boston’s top three or four forwards in all three zones. When he’s again wreaking havoc on the forecheck and in front of the opposition’s net this season, know that nothing comes easy for him and that what he accomplishes during the winter directly ties into all the energy he expended in the summer with just one thought on his mind: a little offseason individual pain will lead to in-season team glory.