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  • “It just feels like home again.” – Milan Lucic on his Boston return

    Tim Rosenthal September 8, 2023

    The Boston Bruins entered a transition period upon Don Sweeney’s first season as general manager.

    One of Sweeney’s first transactions came during the 2015 off-season. With two first-round picks intact, the Bruins acquired another opening-round draft pick after sending fan favorite Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings.

    Lucic spent one year in sunny So. Cal before spending his next seven seasons representing both sides in the Battle of Alberta — three in Edmonton and four with Calgary. Carrying heavy milage from his 16-year career, Lucic’s numbers began to decline after posting 20-plus goals and 50-plus point campaigns in 2015-16 with the Kings and 2016-17 with the Oilers.

    Yet, Lucic provided steady leadership inside the locker rooms even as his production took a dive. And entering free agency, the veteran power forward saw an opportunity he couldn’t pass up as he returns to Boston for his 17th season.

    “After weighing my options and all my opportunities, I felt like that this was going to be the best fit for me,” Lucic said following Friday’s captains’ practice. “And just to add to that, to be a part of the Centennial year, it just made it more tempting to come back to Boston.”

    Growing up in Vancouver, Lucic arrived in Boston as an 18-year-old kid hoping to impress the Bruins’ brass. But even with a good camp, he thought he’d spend at least another season with his hometown WHL team in the Giants’ quest for a Memorial Cup repeat.

    Well, Lucic impressed alright, and he earned a spot in Boston just a year after the Bruins selected him in the second round of the 2006 Draft. Now 16 years later, he’s back where he feels at home.

    Still, Lucic had to navigate through the Brighton training facility for the first time earlier this week.

    “When I came in here for the first day on Wednesday, I had to figure out how to get around this place,” Lucic said after his first skatearound at Warrior Ice Arena. “But it’s really nice to be back. Really nice to be skating in the Bruins’ colors and skating with all the guys again…I’m just excited to get going again.

    “It just feels like I’m home again.”

    As one of the elder statesmen in Boston’s dressing room, Lucic’s veteran presence hopes to help ease another era of transition from Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci. And he knows his role will change quite a bit from his last time in Boston.

    Unlike his previous stint, where he ascended into bonafide top-six power forward next to David Krejci, Nathan Horton, and, for one year, Jarome Iginla, the Bruins will likely use Lucic in a fourth-line or extra forward role in 2023-24.

    “Obviously, when you lose guys there’s more of an opportunity to step into different roles,” Lucic said. “To me, I think it’s more of a leadership role, and a physical role, and just being myself on a day-to-day basis.”

    Surely, Lucic’s best days are behind him. Yet, fans will get to relive some of Lucic’s bone-jarring highlights during his first stint in Boston as part of the centennial celebration.

    Lucic likely won’t provide glass-shattering hits similar to his epic collision with Mike Van Ryn, nor will he have someone to rag doll (proverbially speaking) like Mike Komisarek. But he can still provide energetic and tone-setting checks if needed and help fill the leadership gap that Bergeron and Krejci left.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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