Boston Bruins fans remember Milan Lucic as a prototypical Bruin. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound left wing provided physicality, some scoring punch, and a penchant for coming through in big games. Lucic seemed to embody everything Bruins fans love in a “big, bad Bruin,” the Vancouver native became an instant fan favorite, and fans adopted him as one of their own. Milan Lucic drew comparisons to Cam Neely as a member of a Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011. There was no question Lucic would always be a Bruin.
But professional hockey is a business, and when it came time for Milan Lucic to cash in on his 342 points in 566 regular season games with Boston, the price was too high for Boston’s liking as they began a rebuild with new general manager Don Sweeney. The price tag for Lucic would be $6 million per year, so Boston traded their beloved banger to Los Angeles, and Lucic’s tenure with the Bruins was over. The thought at the time was that Lucic’s skills would begin to diminish due to his size and physical style. The power forward has just turned 27 years old and now was on a different coast.
Lucic had a good year with 20 goals for Los Angeles before signing his big seven-year deal with Edmonton and scored 23 goals with the Oilers during the 2016-17 season. But as some had predicted, Lucic’s offensive game disappeared as his skating suffered. Since that season, Lucic has not surpassed ten goals in a campaign. After spending the last four years in Calgary, the big winger’s contract was up, and the opportunity arose to come back to Boston. The timing was right for both the team and Lucic. But what exactly can Bruins fans expect from their old friend eight years later?
At this point in his career, what Lucic brings to the locker room might outweigh his production on the ice. As Patrice Bergeron retires and veteran leader Nick Foligno moves on to Chicago, the Bruins have a need to help some of their young players learn the NHL game. Lucic can provide a voice in the locker room and a bodyguard on the ice. With 1,173 regular season games under his belt, Lucic has plenty of experience, including eight years in Boston.
To expect Lucic to score a bunch of goals and have the impact he had years ago would be wishful thinking for Bruins fans. But what he can provide is someone who can stand up for his teammates, create a net-front presence and play every night, as his durability has proven over time. You can bet on opening night Lucic will be ready to rumble, literally. And maybe his fighting partner will be Foligno which would definitely start the season off on the right foot for Lucic and his adoring fans.