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Homeward Bound

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- It never hurts when the boss -- in this case Boston Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs -- talks about you in terms of embodying the persona of his organization, but that's exactly what happened to Milan Lucic on Sunday.

"I look at a guy like [Milan] Lucic when he was a rookie and he came out and he hit," said Jacobs in reference to another Bruins power forward, now B's president, Cam Neely.

"You knew he was out there, he hit hard, and you said ‘that’s what a Bruin should be like,’" said Jacobs of Lucic.

Nobody in Boston is surprised by the comments or comparisons.

Fans in the Hub of Hockey is used to seeing Lucic's blend of traditional Black & Gold hockey with the sweet hands of a proven NHL goal scorer, but to be mentioned by the team's owner in a direct comparison to a Hockey Hall of Famer had Milan smiling on Monday.

"It's a great compliment," said Lucic, interviewed just prior to the club's departure for Vancouver.

"He's welcomed me into the organization, obviously, and when I came here Mr. Jacobs was committed to making a change and bringing Cam Neely in, so it's cool going through this transition with him being involved, first as vice president and now president.

"It's also been great and cool to have a relationship with Cam throughout my years here," added the left wing. "He's helped me a lot and we've talked a lot about hockey and also the mental standpoint of it and having fun with it.

"To be mentioned in the same sentence as him, another guy from Vancouver who played here in Boston, it's special."

Lucic and Neely, both Vancouver natives, will return home today to British Columbia to begin preparations for Wednesday and Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals.

Lucic said he remembered the Canucks take on the New York Rangers in the 1994 Final.

"I was born and raised a Vancouverite, but I think for these next two weeks, I am a true Bostonian." - Milan Lucic
"It was a big time in Vancouver," explained the left wing. "My uncle Dan Kesa, he was in the Vancouver organization playing for their AHL team at the time, so our family, we were all cheering for the Canucks to win.

"As a kid, you remember Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden and Kirk McLean, and all those guys, that brought that team and did so much for that city, it makes this extra special to go home and play against my former team, the team that I've cheered for."

It's a bit of a juxtaposition for Lucic, who brought a Memorial Cup championship to Vancouver prior to his days with the Bruins.

"It was a great experience for me in Vancouver, especially with the Giants," said Lucic. "I felt that's where I was able to mature most as a person and as a player and it really got me to this point and I learned a lot there.

"From the owner Ron Toigo, who had that special night for me back in February, and from the GM Scott Bonner and his brother Craig Bonner, who have done so much for me and also the coach there Don Hay and Ian Gallagher -- they've really helped me mature as a person and grow as a person."

But that's where the allegiances end for Lucic.

"I was born and raised a Vancouverite, but I think for these next two weeks, I am a true Bostonian," said Lucic with a laugh. "And I know all of them have been converted into Bruins fans.

"And I know that a lot of my true friends and family are cheering for us."

On Sunday, post-practice, talked about his Vancouver fan base.

"Obviously, everyone’s excited back home," said Lucic. "They’re excited for us and for myself that we get the chance to play in the Stanley Cup Finals here.

Lucic drops the puck at "Milan Lucic" night.
"It was funny, they told me all my friends went out that Friday night cheering 'Let’s Go Bruins' in downtown Vancouver.

"That was pretty cool to hear from them."

But Lucic, and the rest of the B's have their eyes on the ultimate prize.

"It’s a special feeling to be able to have this opportunity but going into it feels the same as going into any other series, so we’re treating it the same way and we’re going about things like we have all season long," he said, while acknowledging how pumped up he'll feel going into Game 1.

"Yeah for sure, there’s always that adrenaline," said Lucic. "Last game and the first time I played in Vancouver against the Canucks you kind of get that nervous little butterfly feeling in your stomach playing there and I’m sure it’s going to start that way, too.

"But I just have fun I guess when I’m playing at home. You know it’s always special to be able to play in front of your parents and your family, and I just try to make them proud."

And Lucic looks forward to coming back to a full TD Garden in Boston for Games 3 and 4.

"I can't wait to see that," said Lucic. "It's been great walking around town and seeing the appreciation from the fans.

"Some fans are even coming up to me and saying,'Thank You!' and all that type of stuff...because they've been feeling a lot of heartache in the last [20] years, we're definitely excited.

"The Garden was rocking so far throughout the whole playoffs and I'm sure it's going to go up another level."
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