#17- Milan Lucic – I’m not a hater, I just punch a lot.



ilan Lucic was drafted  by the Boston Bruins in the second round(50th overall) of the 2006 NHL entry draft. The Bruins were initially going to choose Lucic as the thirty-seventh pick, but at the last moment chose to go with defenseman Yuri Alexandrov. The Bruins scouting director, Scott Bradley thought they had lost their chance to grab the West Vancouver native. When Boston’s next pick came up they were excited that he was still available. “We were fortunate to get him.” Bradley later said.  Lucic was also excited to be part of the organization.

“I’m happy that I’ve gone to Boston.”said Lucic. “I think I bring a real physical asset to the game. I think I go out there and punish their D-men and punish their forwards and really make them pay the price. I think I’m good around the net. I chip in with some points, and if it needs to happen, I’m a willing combatant to drop the gloves.”

In the 2007 off season, Lucic signed an entry level contract with the Bruins. His skill and determination earned him a slot on the roster out of training camp. #17 participated in his first NHL game (and by coincidence, his first NHL fight) on October 5, 2007 against the Dallas Stars. Just a week later, he scored his first NHL goal against the Los Angeles Kings. Looch had also racked up his first Gordie Howe Hat Trick. ( a goal, an assist, and a fight in the same game.) He ended up with thirteen fighting majors in his rookie season.  Milan totaled eight goals, (four of them game winners) nineteen assists, and eighty nine minutes of penalties.  He had earned the 7th Player Award for going above and beyond.

The legend of Looch the Gooch was started. On October 23, 2008, the Bruins were playing the Toronto Maple Leafs at home. Milan Lucic lined up and checked Mike Van Ryn so hard it obliterated a portion of the glass at TD Garden. Two days later, he earned his first NHL hat trick against the Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets).  He had doubled his goal output, scoring seventeen goals(three of them game winners), twenty five assists, and a NHL personal ‘best’ of one hundred and thirty six penalty minutes. He had also earned the Bruins’ Eddie Shore (not to be confused with the AHL award) award for hustle and determination.

The 2009-2010  season had Lucic experience highs and lows. He signed a three year, twelve million dollar contract extension with the Bruins. Ten days later, on October 16, he broke his finger in a game against the Dallas Stars while hitting defenseman Stéphane Robidas. Lucic returned to the Bruins lineup on November 19.  Four games later, he sprained his ankle in a game against the Minnesota Wild . Lucic was limited to fifty games in his third NHL season. He scored only nine goals(two game winners) and eleven assists to finish the regular season. He did manage to score five goals and four assists in the post-season before being knocked out in the second round by the Philadelphia Flyers . All five goals were scored in the second round, two of them in game seven where the Bruins lost 4-3.

The 2010-2011 season started off well for the winger. On November 18, he earned a natural hat trick(three consecutive goals without the opponent scoring) against the Florida Panthers in a 4-0 rout.  He had gone through the season tied for overall points with David Krejci. Lucic put up thirty goals that season(five of them power play, seven of them game winners), thirty two assists and a one hundred twenty one penalty minutes(two full games).  In the twenty five post season games played, Lucic scored five times, got seven assists and racked up sixty three penalty minutes.  After three seven game rounds, and one of the toughest finals in recent hockey history, Milan Lucic and the Boston Bruins were the 2011 Stanley Cup Champions.  I remember that last game all too well. When the Cup was being passed around from Bruin to Bruin, the response from the Vancouver crowd was rather tepid.

Then David Krejci hands the Cup to Lucic. It was storybook. The hometown kid makes good and the fans cheer. For Canucks fans, it was the closest they were going to get to the Cup that year, and they had those few seconds to celebrate it with him. One of those nights that will stick in my head forever.

The 2011-2012 season was very intermittent. The Bruins had the ‘Stanley Cup hangover’, going 3-7 in their first ten games.  Lucic had been called a “gutless piece of (excrement)” by Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller. Then there was that incredible November run, and then the team suddenly fell apart in 2012. Injuries plagued the team. Lucic still managed to put up twenty six goals(one game winner, and seven power play), thirty five assists and one hundred thirty five penalty minutes. The playoffs showed off how tired and hurt the Bruins were. Looch had gotten three assists, but wasn’t able to score a goal in their first round departure from the playoffs at the hands of the Washington Capitals. On an odd(or symbolic) note, Lucic had been picked by fellow NHL players as the player they least wanted to fight against.

Now as we gear up for the 2012-2013 season, a very hungry(and probably angry) Lucic is ready to re-assert his dominance in the NHL. Check the fight card, ring the bell, and grab the ref. It’s going to get bloody.