Despite engaging in some heated battles on the ice, opposing NHL players often forge enduring friendships away from the rink. We thought it might be interesting, then, to do some reconnaissance in the visitors' dressing room to get an occasional take on a Canadiens player from a friendly foe on another club. Today: Oilers forward Milan Lucic on his summer training partner, Brendan Gallagher.
How did you two first meet? What was you first impression of him?
MILAN LUCIC: I met him when I first got to Vancouver [as a member of the WHL's Vancouver Giants] in 2005. My first of impression of him what that he was a super small dude like he is today. (laughs) But he was full of energy and a really nice kid.
Do you keep in touch during the season?
ML: We do, but not as much as during the summer. We'll text one another after the other had nice goal or made a nice play and stuff like that.
You guys have been training in the summer together for a few years now and his dad Ian was the strength coach with the Vancouver Giants when you were there. Are you still surprised when he manages to make hard drills look easy?
ML: I am. (laughs) Especially when I see him lift the same weights as I do. He might be smaller, but he's so strong. That's what makes him so effective in those tight areas like in front of the net or along the boards.
Is there an exercise where you clearly had the upper-hand on him?
ML: Maybe the bench press. Or you know what, all of the back exercises. I have the upper-hand there.
We assume you guys would head out to eat once in a while after your workouts. Who has the bigger appetite?
ML: Tough to say since I've never really paid attention to that. But I'll say me since I'm bigger than him.
Who's the better tipper?
ML: Oh, me for surrrre. (laughs)
Who's the biggest trash-talker between you two?
ML: I would say it's him. I like to talk on the ice as well, but I'll say pretty much the same things as he does.
Brendan's been known to flash his smile at opponents on the ice whenever things get testy. Did you ever have to restrain yourself from retaliating because he's your friend?
ML: Oh, I've hit him hard a few times because he was smiling at me when I was in Boston. He'll be the first one to tell you that he was asking for it. (laughs)
Was it hard having Brendan as a friend when you were with the Bruins, given the huge rivalry that exists between Boston and Montreal?
ML: Yes it was. Everyone knows the history between the Bruins and the Canadiens. But I've always liked the way he plays. That's why I said many times when I was in Boston that the team should've drafted him. We would've been an amazing team with him on board.
Do you like him more now that you're playing in the Western Conference?
ML: For sure. I even cheer for him sometimes. For him…not the team. (laughs)