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Milan Lucic, Teammates Show Support at Rob Ninkovich's Charity Event

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON - What you get when you have Milan Lucic, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask, Dennis Seidenberg, Rob Ninkovich, Rob Gronkowski and Dustin Pedroia all in the same room?

A charity ping pong event, put on by Ninkovich, defensive end and linebacker for the New England Patriots.

Ninko's Ping Pong Challenge took place on Tuesday night at Game On! near Fenway Park, bringing together Boston's pro athletes from the Bruins, Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, New England Revolution and the UFC.

Still in Boston, Lucic, Bergeorn, Rask and Seidenberg went to show their support.

"It's pretty cool we get to do events like this and we can come support a good cause like this and it's nice that we can get together on a lighter note and just kind of hang out and have some fun," Lucic said, of the camaraderie amongst the New England sports teams. "And obviously raise some money for a good cause."

"So it's good to see that relationship between the teams, I'm sure the fans love it when we're all hanging out together and doing stuff together and we just want to have some fun."

Lucic took part in the event to simply help out a friend.

"I met Ninko maybe about four or five years ago at a charity event, right after we won the Stanley Cup at a Mark Wahlberg event, and we started chatting and became friends ever since," said Lucic, a well known Pats fan. "So it's nice to see him put on a fun charity event like this in Boston here and I'm happy I could be a part of it."

"I've known Milan for a long time now, he's a great friend of mine," said Ninkovich, who took some time to speak with "I go to a lot of the games and the things that they do are very impressive to me, and I'm sure what we do is impressive to them, so it's kind of cool to see the different aspects of our sports."

"And the games that they play - it's amazing to me how many games that they play - so it's cool, it's awesome that they're coming out to support me and it's a really cool event."

Ninkovich is no stranger to supporting to the Bruins as well, going to games when he can. The Lombardi Trophy even made its way to TD Garden this season after the Patriots won Super Bowl XLIX, just as the Stanley Cup made visit to Gillette Stadium in 2011.

"It's been great," said Rask. "For the years I've been here, I think we've kind of gotten to know those guys a little bit more. After the Cup, we went to their stadium before the game and I've been to Red Sox and kind of seen those guys and got to know them."

"So I think it's great that whenever we have time, we can support each other at events like this, and happy to do it."

"When it comes to charities, all the guys always come together and help out and that's a great thing to see, and it just shows how much each organization wants to help," said Seidenberg.

Also among the featured athletes at the event - put on by Celebrities For Charity - were Ray Bourque, the Patriots' Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola and Chandler Jones, UFC Fighter John Howard, and the Revolution's Teal Bunbury and Charlie Davies.

Bergeron was paired with former Celtic Leon Powe on a ping pong team, while Rask joined Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski. Lucic and Seidenberg were paired together for the event, which pitted the athletes against sponsors who made donations. "Looooooch" chants were heard from the loyal Bruins' fans in attendance.

"Whenever we're around, and especially now when we're not playing, it's easy for us to come here and show support," said Rask.

"It's easy for us to do, and it's always fun to help out," said Bergeron. "It's for charity, so that's definitely a big plus. Ping pong is fun - and I'm not very good at it - but it's going to be a fun night and it's a good time to see the guys."

"It will be nice to see them and see a few other athletes from around New England, so it's always special to have the time to do that."

Bergeron and the Bruins wish they didn't have this extra time in mid-May. Being around the other athletes and getting to know them always pushes them to rise to the challenge of competing within a huge sports landscape like New England.

"I think we all respect each other, we all want the other teams to do well, and it's definitely a nice challenge when you see the Pats or the Sox doing well and the Celtics, and you're trying to do the same thing on your own," said Bergeron. "And I guess live up to the challenge and win some hockey and win the Cup. So it's been great to have that in New England and having a chance to chat and to get to know some of the other players has also been very fun."

So, while who usually don the Black and Gold would like to still be playing, that wasn't going to stop them from enjoying each other's company and getting in on the fun.

"I stick to the backhand, that's my main move," Lucic joked to a sea of reporters gathered for the event.

"Well I'm sure if he can hit a slap shot, he should be able to do just fine at a ping pong ball that's right in front of him," Ninkovich smiled.

So, who's the best ping pong player on the team?

"It's Tuukka by far," smirked Lucic. "You know, those Europeans, they're really good with their racket skills and we've had some ping pong tournaments before within the team, so between the three of us, it's Tuukka. If you want the best on team, it's David Krejci, but he's not here unfortunately to represent the team."

"I should be a good ping pong player because I'm a goalie and I should have good hand-eye, but it doesn't really work that way I guess," Rask laughed.

"We used to have a table in Providence in our locker room, but since then I haven't really played, like more than 10 times, so the expectations are not too high."

It was nice to see the semblance of relaxation. The Bruins are no doubt still disappointed with their season, that won't go away. But now it's about making the most of the time they do have, whether it's resting, recovering, working out -- or attending a charity event and supporting a friend.

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