Bruins forward Milan Lucic had a very eventful summer as his star stock continued to rise. Whether it was participating in the Team Canada Olympic Orientation Camp or the NHL/NHLPA Players Media Tour or the EA Sports Fall Starting Lineup Preview, Lucic seemed to be constantly in the spotlight.
But while at the latter event at the EA Sports Campus in Burnaby, British Columbia, Lucic found himself in a spotlight he didn’t want to be in when he was forced to wear an EA Sports hockey jersey reminiscent of the ones worn by the Bruins’ archrivals the Montreal Canadiens. A picture of Lucic in the jersey spread like wildfire on the Internet as Habs and Bruins fans traded barbs at each other — and some Montreal fans targeted Lucic directly.
“I want to make clear that I refused to wear that and they just wouldn’t give up on it and forced me to wear it,” Lucic exclaimed recently. “Make sure you write that. I got a lot of crap for that but I swear I didn’t want to wear it!”
In his first two seasons in Boston, Lucic has become a cult hero with Bruins fans, drawing constant comparisons to Cam Neely for his combination of physical play, grit and scoring. It is crystal clear when talking to him that he bleeds Black and Gold.
“I’m a Bruin and there’s no way I’m wearing any Montreal stuff,” he said. “That’s our rivals and right away I knew Bruins fans were going to hear it from Habs fans.”
Lucic paid close attention to the player movement in the Northeast Division this past summer and he definitely noticed that his personal nemesis, defenseman Mike Komisarek, switched teams but stayed in the division as he signed with Toronto.
“Of course I noticed that he stayed in the division, so the battle goes on,” he said. “Maybe I won’t be hated in Montreal as much and now it will be Toronto. … Nah, probably not.”
But Lucic realizes that every team except the Bruins made some big changes — and he knows that’s because each team is gunning for the reigning Northeast Division champions, who also finished atop the Eastern Conference regular-season standings.
“You look at all the moves they make and you know it’s because they’re trying to catch you in the standings and knock you down,” Lucic said. “There was quite a bit of movement, but I like what we have here. We still have our nucleus intact and have a lot of depth up front and on defense and of course we have one of the best goalies in the league with Timmy [Thomas]. I like our team a lot.”
Of course one of the summer’s hottest topics has been whether restricted free agent Phil Kessel will return, and while the latest indications are that he won’t, Lucic still believes the Bruins have enough scoring if Kessel is dealt or signs an offer sheet.
“I’m not really going to comment on the situation, but all I can say is that we have a great bunch of guys in here and we have enough depth to get the job done,” he said.
As far as his own game goes, Lucic is hoping to take it to the next level and plans on doing so by paying close attention to the little things and not getting too far ahead of himself.
“You always need to try to be better than you were last year,” he said. “Keep taking steps to becoming a more consistent player every night. Bring your best every night, going out there and doing what you can to contribute to team success. You can talk all you want about the big picture but it’s the little things you need to do that make the big things happen. I just need to worry about those little things and the goals and assists will come but winning is what I and the team care about most.”
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