Milan Lucic Defends Hit on Ryan Miller Which Resulted in NHL Disciplinary Hearing

Milan Lucic Defends Hit on Ryan Miller Which Resulted in NHL Disciplinary HearingWILMINGTON, Mass. — Milan Lucic will soon learn his fate.

The bruising Bruins forward had a hearing by phone scheduled with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan at 1 p.m. ET on Monday that will determine if he faces any further discipline for his collision with Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller on Saturday.

Update, 3:45 p.m.: Lucic was not suspended or further disciplined by the league.

Lucic lost control of the puck on a breakaway chance and rammed into Miller after the Sabres netminder skated far out of his crease in a race for the puck. Miller got to the puck first, but then got blasted by Lucic, who received a two-minute minor for charging on the play.

Lucic was even-keeled in his approach to the upcoming hearing when speaking after Monday's practice at Ristuccia Arena.

"Obviously it's something that you have to go through," Lucic said. "I'm just going to state my case and whatever happens, happens. It's out of my control. All I can do is tell my end of the story and what happened."

And Lucic's story hasn't changed from the explanation he gave after Saturday's game.

"It's exactly the same thing as I explained after the game," Lucic said. "I blocked a shot and I pushed the puck a little too far ahead of me. I was skating as hard as I could and when I first looked up he was still in his net. I looked down at the puck as was continuing on and the next thing I knew I looked up and he's coming out full speed at me, so obviously it was a hard collision and I did everything I could just to brace myself.

"Like he said, I have 50 pounds on him, so that's probably why he might have got the worst of it," Lucic continued. "And if you look at the video I was cringing after the play because I was winded because it was such a hard collision. He got a good piece of me as well."

Lucic denied that the hit on Miller was part of any planned strategy to get the goalie off his game.

"That's never a part of our game plan to go after a goalie and run him over or anything like that," Lucic said. "If you look at my record, for a big guy who does go to the net a lot I don't even have a handful of goalie interference penalties in my career."

Lucic also expressed surprise that Miller suffered a concussion on the play. Like many observers, Lucic also wondered if Miller's injury wasn't caused by the collision later in the first period when a Ville Leino hook sent Tyler Seguin crashing into Miller again.

"If you look at it, I've looked at the hit 100 times because he said that he got a concussion, and I looked at it and his shoulder hit my chest," Lucic said. "There was no hit to his head. His helmet came flying off but his head didn't hit the ice. Later on in that period, one of their guys lifted I think it was Segs' stick and threw him into the net as well, so who knows what it was [that caused the concussion]. But it's obviously unfortunate that he got hurt on the play."

It would also be unfortunate for the Bruins to be without Lucic for any length of time as he has been a huge part of their recent resurgence.

"Obviously, you'd been disappointed about it no matter what happens if you got a suspension, whether the team was on a roll or not on a roll," Lucic said. "Even for myself, these last eight or nine games I found my game, so the last thing you want to do is get out of the lineup. It's out of my control. I feel that Brendan Shanahan has done a good job with what he's been doing this year. He's going to make the right decision when it comes to making it."

Lucic had a five-game point streak snapped on Saturday, but still has 8-5-13 totals in the last nine games after starting the season with 0-1-1 totals in his first six games. Linemate David Krejci certainly doesn't want to see Lucic suspended, but was optimistic it won't come to that.

"I don't think it was intentional," Krejci said. "But he's going to have to talk to NHL people, so we'll see what happens.

"I feel that our game is just getting there now and it would be sad if he would have to miss [any games]," Krejci added. "But I'm pretty positive that everything is going to go right and he's going to be playing and we'll keep playing as we are."

Bruins coach Claude Julien didn't want to say too much about the pending hearing, but did off an interesting anecdote about Lucic's history of unintentional collisions, which even claimed assistant coach Geoff Ward in a practice last year.

"I don't know if I was surprised, it's more a [matter of] you never know what's going to happen," Julien said of the decision to hold a hearing. "They look at it whichever way they want and then they make that decision. As far as I'm concerned I saw the same thing. It certainly wasn't our plan to run him over and for what's it's worth, Looch has done the same thing to one of our coaches last year. He buries his head when he chases a puck and by the time he lifts it up somebody's there. Last year it was a coach. This year it was Miller."

As for Miller's comments after the game calling Lucic "gutless" and a "piece of [excrement]," Lucic took the high road when given another opportunity to respond on Monday.

"Obviously he felt that he needed to stick around and say what he said," Lucic said. "For me, it's just in one ear and out the other and move on and focus on what I need to do to continue helping this team to be successful."

The Bruins just hope that Lucic can do that without the interruption of an unpaid vacation from the league office.

Photo via Flickr/bloumeister

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