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Penguins coaching news: Recchi replaces Tocchet, Gonchar hired as full-time assistant

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The Penguins lost assistant Rick Tocchet to the Arizona Coyotes, but added two long-time NHL stars and team standouts when they hired Mark Recchi and Sergei Gonchar.

The Penguins have named Mark Recchi an assistant coach, replacing Rick Tocchet, who was named the head coach of the Arizona Coyotes.

"I would like to thank Rick Tocchet for his invaluable contributions to our team over the last three years," general manager Jim Rutherford said. "Rick has done a terrific job for us, and we wish him the best as a head coach.

"Mark Recchi will be a tremendous addition to our coaching staff. His recent history with the organization, especially with our players and coaches, and his incredible knowledge of the game, will help to ensure a seamless transition. It's only fitting that he starts his NHL coaching career the same year he is inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame."

Recchi, 49, will assume the duties handled by Tocchet, which include running the team's forwards and working closely with Sullivan on the power play. Recchi joins assistant coach Jacques Martin, recently-appointed goaltending coach Mike Buckley, and video coach Andy Saucier, on Sullivan's staff.

A Kamloops, British Columbia native, Recchi had spent the past three seasons as the Penguins' player development coach, and had recently been promoted to director of player development.

On June 26, Recchi was elected to the Hall of Fame as one of seven members of the Class of 2017 that will be enshrined on Nov. 13, 2017, a day off for the Penguins. The NHL's 12th all-time leading scorer with 1,533 points in 1,652 games, Recchi is a five-time Stanley Cup champion. He won three times as a player, first with Pittsburgh in 1991, then with Carolina (2006) and Boston (2011). Recchi has added his name to the Cup two more times as an executive with the Penguins the last two seasons.

Recchi is one of just 10 players from the modern era to win the Stanley Cup with three different teams. As a Bruin in 2011, Recchi became the oldest player to ever score in the Stanley Cup Final, as his Cup Final point total led Boston that year.

Nicknamed 'The Wrecking Ball,' Recchi solidified a spot on the Penguins' All-Time Team by producing 385 points (154G-231A) in 389 career appearances with Pittsburgh. He was the leading scorer on the '91 Stanley Cup championship team with 113 points in the regular season.

A seven-time NHL All-Star, including the '91 season with Pittsburgh, Recchi joined the 500-goal club as a Penguin, scoring the milestone marker against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 26, 2007.

In addition to Recchi, Pittsburgh has named Sergei Gonchar a full-time assistant coach.

Between Gonchar and Recchi, the Penguins have added more than 3,000 combined NHL regular-season and playoff games, 2,500 points and eight Stanley Cups to the coaching staff in the past two days.

"Like Mark, Sergei brings a wealth of hockey knowledge to our team," head coach Mike Sullivan said. "His career is a body of work that speaks for itself. He will naturally transition into a full-time coaching role, building on the experiences and relationships he has already made with our group. He was invaluable during the playoffs, especially in working with our young defensemen."

Gonchar, 43, had spent the past two seasons working as the Penguins' defenseman development coach. In his new role, Gonchar will be an eye in the sky during games. He will work closely with Sullivan and Recchi on the power play, and Gonchar will assist Martin with the defensemen.

One of the young defenders that Gonchar has taken under his wing is Justin Schultz. Since joining the Penguins and being tutored by Gonchar and Martin, Schultz has emerged into one of the top offensive defensemen in the league, finishing the regular season ranked among the NHL's top-10 defensemen in assists (39), points (51) and plus-minus (+27).

During Pittsburgh's back-to-back championship runs, Gonchar has aided the development of several other young blueliners who were crucial to both titles, including Olli Maatta, Brian Dumoulin, Chad Ruhwedel and Derrick Pouliot.

As a player, the 6-foot-2, 210 pound native of Chelyabinsk, Russia was one of the highest-scoring blueliners in the game, especially so during his five-year run in Pittsburgh from 2005-10, when Gonchar produced the fifth-most points among NHL defensemen with 259 (54G-205A). Only Nicklas Lidstrom, Scott Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Brian Rafalski had more points during that span.

When Pittsburgh won its third Stanley Cup in 2009, Gonchar was both an alternate captain and the team's highest-scoring defender with 14 points (3G-11A) in 22 games. One year prior in '08, Gonchar was a key catalyst for an emerging Penguins club that lost in the Stanley Cup Final to Detroit.

Gonchar enjoyed a stellar 20-year NHL career that saw him record 811 regular-season points (220G-591A), the most among Russian-born blueliners in NHL history. Between 1999-2010, the prime of his career, Gonchar reached 50 points nine times in a 10-season span. Only Lidstrom (8 such seasons) had more than five 50-point seasons in that time frame among defensemen.

The road to the Stanley Cup once again goes through the nation's capital for the Penguins, who are set to face Washington on Thursday night for Game 1 at Capital One Arena.
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