BOSTON — Milan Lucic didn't factor into any of Boston's goals Tuesday night.
In fact, the only time he was on the ice for any goal was when New Jersey tied the contest at 3-3 in the third period. But it was still a relief for the Bruins to have the burly winger in the lineup for the 4-3 victory after Monday's decision by league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan to not fine or suspend Lucic for his collision with Buffalo goalie Ryan Miller on Saturday.
While many around the league were outraged at the lack of supplemental discipline, Lucic, not surprisingly, was pleased with his exoneration while offering sympathy for Miller, who is currently sidelined with a concussion.
"Obviously you agree with the decision," Lucic said. "There's not much more to explain about it. If I really ran the goalie then I'm pretty sure I could have put him in a lot worse spot than he is now. I did everything I could do to lessen the impact on the collision. Unfortunately [Miller] got hurt and Brendan Shanahan was on the same page as me."
Not all of the league's general managers were on the same page as Shanahan however. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli noted that the majority of his counterparts thought Lucic should have been suspended, and expressed those feelings at the GM meetings held in Toronto Tuesday.
"There's a lot of discretion," Chiarelli said while meeting with reporters just before Tuesday's faceoff after returning from Toronto. "There's a lot of judgment that goes into reviewing accidental contact, and we had a pretty frank discussion. The Bruins have been part of accidental contact cases, so to a certain degree, we were front and center in reviewing stuff that's been reviewed.
"That led into a discussion on the Lucic hit, and it's fair to say that there's heightened awareness on that," Chiarelli continued. "There's no changes coming, per se, it's just that Brendan wanted to make it clear, and he made it clear. I think the majority spoke also, that goalies aren't fair game. There was a straw poll taken, and the majority said it should have been suspendable, so you can imagine the discussion that came from there."
Chiarelli was asked what the other GMs felt should have happened as a result of the Lucic hit on Miller.
"I didn't really talk to them specifically, but [the other GMs felt] it should have been a five [-minute penalty], and because it should have been a five, therefore, there was an intent to injure," Chiarelli said. "We didn't get into the specifics, just at the very end, they did a straw poll, but it was close. And that's what happens in these things. They're close votes, and we all have our own interpretations."
One interpretation came from Buffalo, where coach Lindy Ruff offered some inflammatory quotes claiming that the decision amounted to declaring an open season on NHL goaltenders. Chiarelli vigorously disputed that contention.
"It really isn't 'open season,'" Chiarelli said. "There's a rule in place, and Lucic got a penalty, and my guess is that if you see that again, you're going to see a suspension. They have that discretion. I'm not saying that if you see that exact thing again, you're going to see a suspension, but something like that. The thing to take away from this is, I can't remember the last time there was an incident like that. You're not going to see it that often, but there certainly isn't 'open season' on goaltenders. That's ridiculous."
Lucic and the Bruins know they have to tread on thin ice now having escaped punishment for this incident, as well as Zdeno Chara hit on Max Pacioretty last year and Andrew Ference's collision with Jeff Halpern in the playoffs. Despite those incidents, Chiarelli doesn't feel that his club is a dirty team or is perceived as one by other NHL clubs.
"No, no, not at all," Chiarelli said. "It's just, when you have a physical team, when you have a bigger team, these things come along with it. That's part of the package, and I accept that. But by no means [is that the perception]. Anyone that I've talked to has told us we're an honest, straight-line, hard team."
The Bruins don't intend to change that style, and Lucic doesn't plan to alter his game at all.
"I went out there today and established a forecheck and had some hits," Lucic said. "So like I said, I'm not going to change my game just because of one little incident."
Lucic, who dished out four hits on Tuesday, also isn't worried about being under any special scrutiny from the league after Saturday's incident.
"If it comes down to running goaltenders, definitely they'll look at me even more, but I rarely get even goalie interference penalties," Lucic said. "If I'm under the microscope then I'm under the microscope. That's something I can't control. I'm still going to play the way that I always play."
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