Milan Lucic set for an emotional return to Boston
It’s only fitting that Milan Lucic’s return to Boston comes during an early February snowstorm.
Like the ever-changing New England weather, Lucic was unpredictable during his eight years in Black and Gold. His play, at times, energized the Bruins bench. At other times — especially during slumps — the Vancouver-born power forward was labeled as ‘lazy’ and ‘disinterested’ from fans and sports radio callers. Incidents from running over Ryan Miller to his infamous antics in the handshake line after Game 7 of the Bruins-Canadiens series in 2014 was dissected, analyzed and discussed around Boston.
While controversy often followed Lucic, who is in his first season in the much warmer Southern California, there’s no denying that the 6-foot-4 winger was one of many Bruins who helped resurrect the franchise. From clutch playoff goals — most notably in Game 6 of 2008 against the Habs — to glass shattering hits and memorable fist a cuffs, Lucic played a significant role in helping the B’s earn their crowning achievement in 2011 by capturing their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
“He was great. He was a big part of our offense with us, and also, you know, his style of play resonates with the Bruins style of play,” Patrice Bergeron said after the Bruins’ morning skate on Tuesday. “He definitely [was] a great teammate, and someone who I wish all the best.”
Unlike many former Bruins who’ve returned, Lucic is going to wear a shade of gold as the Kings debut their new third jersey’s celebrating their 50th season in sunny Los Angeles.
“Yeah, it’s going to be different. A bit of a coincidence that we’ll be wearing our yellow jersey’s tonight. A bit of [gold] that we have on, so I guess that will make it a little bit easier,” Lucic said in his first visiting locker room appearance with the Boston media since being traded to LA on Draft Day. “It will be different. Different side, different room, and getting ready for the game a little bit differently and things like that.”
As he’s set to face his former team tonight, Lucic’s thoughts are just like any other former Bruin that returned to TD Garden. His ex-teammates feel the same way.
“It will be a little different that’s for sure,” said former linemate David Krejci, who keeps in touch with Lucic. “I’m excited to see him play against us, and I’m sure it will be fun for him, for us, for him and for the fans as well.”
A return like Lucic’s brings a lot of perspectives. From his role in resurrecting the franchise to the summer trade that brought Colin Miller, Martin Jones (who was later traded to San Jose for Sean Kuraly and a first round pick) and the Kings’ first round pick last year (used to draft defenseman Jakub Zboril) to the two points at stake and the expected reaction from the crowd, the focus surrounding Lucic can be summarized from many different views on this night.
Those perspectives were touched on by Lucic in a letter to the fans published on The Players’ Tribune. He posted a similar letter thanking Bruins fans after the trade that was published in The Boston Globe back in July.
To say that the former Bruin was grateful for the chance to view his side of his time in Boston, his trade to the Kings and his time so far in So. Cal would be an understatement.
“It was one of those ideas that was thrown at me to do, and as you guys know, I’m never afraid to express how I feel and things like that,” Lucic said about his Players’ Tribune piece.
“When you have success somewhere, and you grow up in a place and like I said you get to meet so many good people on and off the ice, and you get to work with good people and establish good relationships, that’s a big reason why I felt like it would be pretty cool to express my feelings through something like that. I had a great time here, and a lot of great things to me in my personal life and my professional life, and I’ve felt I’ve been able to express that.”
Will Lucic be running over his former teammates in his return, though? How about a fight? Well perhaps, but don’t expect Krejci to be part of any of it.
“Zero,” Krejci joked about his chances of dropping the gloves with Lucic tonight.
The outspoken Lucic, who has 30 points in 50 games on 12 goals and 18 assists this season, is appreciative of his time here. By the end of the night, win or lose, his fans in Boston will be appreciative of the thanks he gave and the time and memories he provided in The Hub..