Milan Lucic, Bruins Make Relaxing Stop in Lake Placid, Soak Up U.S. Hockey History

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April 19, 2011

Milan Lucic, Bruins Make Relaxing Stop in Lake Placid, Soak Up U.S. Hockey History LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — It's hard to find a place with a stronger sense of hockey history than Montreal, where the sport is treated more like a religion.

But the Bruins not only escaped the hornet's nest of hype and hoopla between their games at the Bell Centre, they actually found a place that is arguably even more closely tied to one of the most indelible moments of hockey history. At least United States hockey history.

The Bruins are spending the two days between games in Lake Placid, the site of the Miracle on Ice when the U.S. shocked the powerhouse Soviets en route to the gold medal in the 1980 Olympic Games. 

"I'm Canadian," Bruins coach Claude Julien joked when asked about his recollections of the 1980 upset. "I'm still pretty proud of what they accomplished. We were just talking about that with some of the trainers on the way down and I know as a Canadian hearing the Americans talk about the Miracle on Ice, I'm one of those guys who says rightfully so. When you've got a bunch of college kids do what they accomplished, you should be proud of it and they can talk about it as long as they want.

"It was quite a feat," Julien added. "I was watching that game as well and couldn't believe what I was seeing. It's a great inspirational story and sometimes you hope you can look back at those things and build on it and believe in what you can accomplish."

Julien is at least old enough to remember the Miracle on Ice, even if it doesn't resonate quite as strongly with him as it does with Americans of his generation. For most of the current players, it's a hockey history lesson that is a bit harder to relate to.

"I'm definitely young, but I've seen the movies and I understand what happened here," forward Nathan Horton said. "It's exciting to be here where it actually happened."

Yes, today's players relate more to Kurt Russell's portrayal of Herb Brooks in the 2004 movie "Miracle" than to Al Michaels' original call asking America, "Do you believe in Miracles?"

And leave it to a good Canadian lad like Milan Lucic to even find a Canadian tie-in to the Miracle on Ice.

"It was funny, the movie was filmed in Vancouver in the Agrodome where I actually started playing hockey," Lucic said. "You come and see this and it's actually two very similar rinks. It's cool to come see this. Obviously they were big-time underdogs and they were able to win the Olympic gold. It's cool to see what it was like last year in Vancouver and the difference between the two cities. It's cool to see both ends of it."

The Bruins have just one American regular on their roster in goalie Tim Thomas. He was directly inspired by the 1980 team as youngster in Flint, Michigan, but visiting Lake Placid has had an impact even on the Canadian contingent on the club.

"We all know the story," defenseman Andrew Ference said. "It's neat. It's obviously a big part of American hockey history. The people around town, we just went for a quick walk this morning and everyone was coming up to us and telling us welcome and they're happy to have us. They definitely like their sports here and they like hockey."

Staying in Lake Placid offers more than just a history lesson. The Bruins also get a chance to escape the intense media spotlight in Montreal for a couple days, at least somewhat.

"Even in Lake Placid, you get a pretty good showing of media, so I don't think you ever escape it," Ference said. "I think it's more a matter of just being relaxed in a setting like this. You go outside and it's just really casual. It's really relaxed and you get to just chill out for a couple days."

Julien agreed.

"It's a great place to be," the Bruins coach said. "It's nice and quiet. There's a lot of history here. I think there's a great opportunity for us to get a quality practice in and also get a chance to get a rest."

Only the Bruins who did not play in Monday's Game 3 win took the ice for a brief workout in Lake Placid on Tuesday. The entire squad will practice on Wednesday before returning to Montreal, a schedule that also allows the team to spend some quality time together off the ice.

"It's pretty nice, there's a lot of history here," Horton said. "It's nice to get away and relax and bond as a team again."

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