Boston, MA --
Rough, tumble, tough and humble forward Milan Lucic
was signed to a three-year contract extension through the 2012-13 NHL season Tuesday afternoon and he’s very happy to remain in Boston for the next four years (this season, plus his extension).
“[I’m] just real excited to be here for three more years after this year,” Lucic said about continuing his tenure as a Bruin. “At our year-end meeting, I expressed to [Peter Chiarelli] I wanted to be a Bruin as long as I can, I really do enjoy it here.
“It is an honor to play for an organization like this that has so much history and [is] going in the direction that we are going.”
Lucic earned a 17-25-42 line last season, recorded career highs in all major categories and added 136 penalty minutes and a +17 rating. During the postseason, he earned a team best +12 rating in ten games and had three goals and six assists.
Head Coach Claude Julien thinks Lucic is a valuable asset on his top line and he sounded pretty happy that his young power forward will remain in the fold.
“If you start looking around the league, how many players are playing on the top line and having that type of…physical toughness and also having some skill involved,” asked Julien rhetorically. “I’d say he’s not unique, but probably a rare type of player and that’s why people keep comparing him to Cam Neely, is because Cam had that same element of toughness, but he was a guy that scored 50 goals and he could do a little bit of everything.
“I think that’s what we’ve got in Milan [Lucic] here. He is a guy who can still produce and also give you that respect on the top line that other teams aren’t going to take advantage of.”
But Lucic is also currently the youngest Bruin at just 21-years-old and has one of the largest fan followings in the Boston sports market. That affection is proudly displayed after the 6’3’’ 228-pound winger makes a hit or scores a goal and the Garden faithful break out into uproarious cheers of “Looooch” to show their appreciation.
“It’s not just us, it’s the city that embraced him,” agreed Shawn Thornton
. “He’s the fan favorite.
“The intangibles he brings that don’t show up on the score sheet every night are what makes him who he is.
“His happy go lucky attitude and all that stuff [helps] too,” continued Thornton, “but I mean the fact [is] that he can skate, he can paste guys to the boards to stick up for his teammates and he’s got a pretty good touch around the net, too. So he’s got a lot better vision and play maker ability he even gets credit for.
“So congratulations to him, that’s awesome. I’m glad he’s going to be here."
Even so, Lucic spoke about reaching his childhood goals, and staying grounded.
“Growing up as a kid I guess this is what you always wanted,” he said. ”You know now that it is here, and it’s something that you work hard for and it definitely didn’t come easy.
“Like I said it’s been a pretty crazy roller coaster the ride the past couple years but you just got to make sure you do whatever you can to keep yourself grounded and make sure hockey comes first.”
Not only does hockey come first, Lucic also said he doesn’t look too far ahead.
“I was just focused on the task at hand and the short-term goals,” he said. “Obviously, it has gone by real quick since the 2007 Memorial Cup where we did win in Vancouver.
“It’s been a great experience with the Boston Bruins since then and I have enjoyed every second of it and hopefully every second from here on in will be just as enjoyable.”
Lucic was drafted by the Bruins in the second round, 50th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but he first got a spot on the Bruins roster in 2007-08, after making a strong showing during Boston's first rookie development camp.
His work during the summer earned Lucic a spot at training camp.
“I remember back to the first training camp when he first came in here and playing with him,” said fellow linemate Marc Savard
about playing with him for the first time in New Brunswick during the 2007-08 preseason.
“I remember talking to Peter [Chiarelli] on the way out to the bus, it was preseason, I said ‘I think this kid’s ready already,’ I [could] just tell playing with him how strong he was and ever since then… we became great friends.”
Not only is he a good friend, he’s also a great linemate.
“Obviously [his] presence on the ice, getting the fans involved especially at home, making room for myself out there and Sturmie [who are] playing together right now,” said Savard. “It seems like any time the puck’s in that left corner or coming up his left wall we’re going to get it out of the zone or retrieve the puck, so it’s a good thing to have and [he] gives us good time with the puck.”