BOSTON — Milan Lucic was one of the Bruins’ most beloved players during his eight seasons in Black and Gold. Don’t expect that to change now that he’s wearing a different sweater.
Lucic returns to TD Garden on Tuesday night for the first time since his offseason trade to the Los Angeles Kings, and his old teammates believe he’ll be welcomed back with open arms.
“What I want and what I expect is the same thing, pretty much,” Bruins center David Krejci said Tuesday morning. “I hope it’s going to be nice. He was really loved by all of the fans here, and us as teammates, we’ve been together through so much. Not talking about a standing ovation, but for a guy like that, it would be really nice.”
Krejci added that he and Lucic, linemates throughout much of the latter’s tenure in Boston and good friends to this day, had a chance to catch up during the Bruins’ and Kings’ off night Monday.
“(We) talked about family stuff and stuff like that,” Krejci said. “It was really good to see him. He’s a really good friend of mine, so it’s always nice to see a guy like that come in here. You can catch up and talk hockey and off-ice family stuff, as well.”
Lucic, who debuted for the Bruins in 2007 as a 19-year-old rookie, played a major role on both the 2010-11 B’s team that hoisted the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years and the 2013 squad that lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Cup Final.
“He was great,” said center Patrice Bergeron, a teammate of Lucic’s for the entirety of the winger’s Bruins tenure. “He was a big part of our offense with us, and also I think his style of play definitely resonates with the Bruins’ style of play over the years. So, yeah, he’s definitely a great teammate and someone that I wish him all the best.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien, who arrived in Boston the same season as Lucic did, offered more high praise for the bruising power forward.
“I don’t think he’ll get a bad reception at all,” Julien said. “I think he’ll get a good reception. I mean, he came here as a 19-year-old and was an important part of our hockey club for all the years he was here. And he’s been a good soldier — I use that term a lot — for us. He’s been a fun guy to coach. I’ve enjoyed my time with Looch, and I’ve gained a lot of respect for what he’s had to go through as a young player, and the role he’s had to play to adapting between his grit and obviously his performance offensively, and the statistics of goals and all that stuff. …
“But he’s been a good soldier, and he’s been a player that’s been well-liked by his teammates. So, there were some decisions to be made. We miss him, but we move on.”
As for Lucic? He’s excited to return to his old stomping grounds, and he hopes the fans are excited to have him back.
“You obviously hope for the best reception,” Lucic said. “I’ve actually thought about it a lot, especially in the last week, and what it’s going to be like. I felt like I had a really good relationship with the fans, and we’ll see what the reception here is like (Tuesday night). I know when (former Bruins center) Gregory Campbell came back, he got a real great reception for what he did here, so we’ll see what it’s like here (for me).”
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic
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