Recchi/By S. Bradley

BOSTON — The folks up in Montreal think there’s a criminal skating through these recent games for the Bruins, but the only one who’s committed a dishonest act is Mark Recchi.

As it turns out, Recchi said after tonight’s game that his Wednesday accusatory comments about the Canadiens’ organization was all a ruse to distract from Zdeno Chara, who Quebec authorities are still reportedly investigating for his hit on Max Pacioretty of March 8. So in the Bruins’ dressing room, you might as well call Mark Recchi Danny Ocean.

“Well I have to be honest with you guys. I wanted to take the heat off Zee for a day and I’m a big boy,” said Recchi after the Bruins’ 7-0 win at TD Garden. “And I think anyone who knows me knows that I have great respect for the Montreal organization, I played five years there. I have great respect for Dr. [David] Mulder, the medical staff there. I had a great five years there. I took the pressure off of Zee. In 22 years, I’ve respected all my teammates, all the players I play against. My record has shown that. … I took the pressure off of Zee for one day. I’m a big boy, I can handle it. I have nothing but great things to say about the Montreal organization, I had five great years there.

“And it’s still an unfortunate situation it all happened. We all hope Max [Pacioretty] gets a full recovery here soon and we know he’s well on his way. And like I said, this is something that I believe in twenty-two years I’ve been very respectful to players and opponents throughout. So that should be the end of it really.”

In this crime, however, Recchi apparently had no accomplices. Or at least all his teammates did a great job of acting as if newspapers, Web sites and radio shows don’t exist because no player that asked about Recchi’s comments would own up to having any idea what he said. Even Chara said pleaded ignorance on the issue to a point.

“I obviously don’t know exactly all the comments. But he’s such a great teammate and such a respected guy and leader,” said the captain. It’s a thrill to have him. We all learned so much from him. He’s obviously the next Hall-of-Famer and such a classy guy. Like I said, I can’t thank him enough to be my teammate and be part of this team, and helping all of us to be better.”

Of course, there’ll always be some doubts about whether Recchi believed anything he said about Pacioretty and the Habs. When pressed on the matter, Recchi said:

“Zee has taken a lot of heat and I felt it was very important to take, get some focus elsewhere. I’m a big boy, and like I said, I’m sorry if it hurt some people, but at the same time, I think everyone knows my reputation for 22 years. I’m very respectful of teammates, players, organizations and that is not going to change. I felt a need to protect our captain and it’s important. That will be the end of it and you won’t hear anything said by me anymore.”

Bruins coach Claude Jullien didn’t necessarily give Recchi the green light to light a fire, but once it started raging he says he knew what the wily veteran was up to.

“Well it says a lot [about Recchi’s character] because I know what kind of player he is and I knew exactly what he was doing,” the coach claimed, although we’ll never know who knew what in this perfect crime. “And you don’t have to speak. I mean he’s 43-years-old, I think he’s a big boy. He can answer for himself. I don’t think I need to coach him on any of that stuff and when you see a guy with that kind of experience say something like that, you know what he’s doing. So there was nothing to be said and their focus was on the game and he said what he had to say. And for whatever reason and that’s something that I didn’t need to ask him that question because I knew exactly what he was doing.”

All we really know for for sure is that Recchi is clearly a “big boy.” If in fact this was all a con, he pulled off a man-sized fast one. It’s difficult to discern truth from lies in this whole affair, but one thing is undeniable — Recchi is the type of leader that will do anything for his team, and the Bruins’ oft-criticized captain has the respect of one of the all-time great players and leaders. That’s not a trick.