BOSTON -- During tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens, Milan Lucic found himself sitting in a rather unfamiliar spot: high above the ice on press level.
Earlier in the day, the league announced that Lucic had received a one-game suspension and a fine for his hit on forward Zac Rinaldo at 16:21 of the second period of Saturday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers, in addition to a major penalty and game misconduct during the game.
And while Lucic said he respects the decision that Brendan Shanahan, the league’s head disciplinarian, made, he still wasn’t happy about it.
“Obviously I don’t think anyone’s ever happy when they get suspended,” Lucic said. “It sucks to sit out a game for an incident like this, especially when we’re playing our rivals tonight.”
Lucic had the chance to defend his actions in a hearing with Shanahan before he received the suspension.
“[Shanahan] asked me what I was thinking at the time and about the hit,” Lucic said. “I told him exactly what I said after the game: I did everything I could to try and get [Rinaldo’s] shoulder and try to make it not from behind.”
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli agreed with Lucic’s assessment, noting that, “if you look at it closely, I feel that…he did change his game, so to speak, on that check. I thought he stopped skating.
“If you looked at his left arm going in, I thought he tried to lever him so that he could hit him in the crest, and I don’t think he hit him as hard as he normally does,” Chiarelli said.
Still, the GM, too, said he respects Shanahan’s decision.
“I agree with the global objective of addressing player safety,” he said. “I may complain on a case-by-case, but those are the rules that we play by, and I’m OK with it.”
Both Chiarelli and Lucic both noted that, had Lucic not been involved in previous minor incidents – most notably, his hit in November on Sabres goalie Ryan Miller, for which he received a warning and much public scrutiny – he may not have been suspended.
“[Shanahan has] said that to me…[that] he’s going to look at that stuff, and I think you have to,” said Chiarelli. “Standing alone, I don’t think [Lucic’s hit on Rinaldo] is a suspendable offense…but I could understand where he’s coming from.”
But this suspension doesn’t mean Lucic, or the Bruins as a whole, should change their physical play.
“We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were gonna be a little more heavily scrutinized,” Chiarelli said. “But that’s the way we built the team, and I’m going to continue to build it that way.
"We won’t stray from how we built it, and we’ll continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.”
They just have to keep being smart about it.
“Our guys are smart, generally, so it’s not a concern,” Chiarelli said. “It’s just something we have to keep our eye on.”