Toronto, ON --
Leaving the locker room on Monday, before he dressed for the airplane to Canada, Milan Lucic
looked as if he had something to say and before the media left the locker room one lucky reporter asked the rookie what was on his mind.
Seizing the opportunity, the young man looked at the reporter, flashed his big toothy smile and started talking about how special it is for a Canadian kid, even one who is not a fan of the leafs, to play on the big ice sheet in Toronto's Air Canada Centre.
"Growing up you watch a lot of hockey night in Canada games coming from there and it's my first time in there," he said with wide-grinned abandon. "My parents are coming down to watch and it is going to be a big game."
Lucic, you see, practices a different form of public relations than does fellow rookie Tuukka Rask
. Rask, is measured, even polished, and tends to keep his clips short. Milan on the other hand is polished in a different sort of way and is simply himself when talking.
That candor is at least as refreshing as Tuukka's maturity, because, let's face it, it was fun to hear about how excited Lucic was about playing Toronto.
"To be perfectly honest, I was never really a leafs fan," said Lucic of T.O. "If anything they were probably my most hated team in the NHL, just because there is a rivalry between the Vancouver fans and the Toronto fans.
"So the best thing was when Vancouver beat them in 1994's conference finals."
Thinking aloud, Lucic thought of even more reasons to get pumped.
"Again, it's an Original Six battle and it is going to be a lot of fun."
Lucic did have a lot of fun in Toronto and had a pretty nice game in front of family and the 19,441 rabid hockey fans in attendance.
With two hits (and a penalty that should not have been a penalty) Milan whetted his appetite in terms of hockey in Toronto and hopes just to keep on playing as much as possible.
"It was good," said Milan on the way to the bus for the airport. "It was a fun place to play (because) you could really feel the energy in the building.
"It was a really good experience."
But, having only played 6:44, Lucic would like to have more impact on games like this.
"Obviously, the more exciting (it is) you want to play more," said Lucic, who echoed Rask in his final statement. "I just have to take it upon myself to work hard and make sure I am playing hard every game."