Milan Lucic will return to his old stomping grounds Tuesday for the first time since he swapped the Boston Bruins’ black and gold for the black and silver of the Los Angeles Kings.
The power forward was adored during his eight seasons in Boston, and he published a piece for The Players’ Tribune on the eve of his first game back at TD Garden detailing just how much his time with the Bruins shaped the player and person he is today.
The open letter, simply titled “To Boston,” is an absolute must-read for any fans of Lucic or the Bruins. In it, the 27-year-old discusses, among other topics, his memorable introductions to Johnny Bucyk, Zdeno Chara and Shawn Thornton, the fight-to-prove-myself mindset he had as a 19-year-old B’s rookie, and his feelings in the days and hours leading up to his franchise-shaking trade from Boston to L.A. this past summer.
You can — and should — read the piece in its entirety by clicking this link, but here are a few of the highlights:
On meeting Chara: Zdeno saw the new kid and he walked right over to me. I?m a pretty big guy. But Zdeno is a monster. I remember looking up at him and actually thinking, Holy smokes. This guy is freaking huge.
He stuck out his big mitt.
?Hi, I?m Zdeno. Very nice to meet you.?
That?s what he said! Hi, I?m Zdeno. Like I didn?t know. Like I wasn?t freaking out about it.
I went in for the shake, and Big Z just crushed me. His grip was ridiculous.
On Thornton’s words of wisdom: Thankfully, Boston was full of guys who had my back. One of them was Shawn Thornton. Early on, he gave me some very valuable advice: ?Listen. It?s not about how many times you beat somebody up. It?s about how many times you don?t get beat up. You don?t always have to win. Just don?t lose.?
On fighting Tampa Bay’s Nick Tarnasky in his first game at TD Garden: I barely remember the fight. What I remember ? actually, what I will never forget ? is the sound of the Garden when the referee was taking me to the box.
That roar. Oh my gosh. It?s the best.
After that game, I thought, “Man, what if we could bring that Big Bad mentality back? This city is ready for it. They love it.”
On his feelings ahead of Tuesday’s Bruins-Kings game: I have to say, every day as an L.A. King has been a happy one. I don?t think I could have landed in a better spot for me and my family. But I?ll always appreciate how Boston shaped my life.
Coming back to the Garden for the first time this week, I?ll be battling the butterflies, for sure. Who knows, maybe I?ll just go out there and drop the mitts just to get the blood flowing. For old time?s sake.
Boston: Thank you. For everything.
Thumbnail photo via Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY Sports Images