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Growing up in East Vancouver, mom Snežana and dad Dobrivoje (Dobro) made certain Milan Lucic understood and practiced family customs, and stayed true to his lineage

by GEORGE JOHNSON @GJohnsonFlames /

When Milan Lucic is on your side, off the ice or on, whether in black-and-gold, black-and-silver, orange, navy blue and white or, nowadays, red and white, Canadian flag or Serbian, he's all in.

"Oh, yeah," confesses the Flames' don't-mess-with-us winger. "I cheer - hard - for (Novak) Djokovic whenever I turn on the TV and he's on the tennis court.

"All the basketball teams, the soccer teams from back there …" he paused with a soft chuckle of support, "… I've got their backs."

And Lucic, known as someone not to be trifled with, is a handy guy to have in your corner.

In the three-boy household on East 49th St., in the working-class Champlain Heights/Killarney neighbourhood of East Vancouver during Milan's growing-up years, mom Snežana and dad Dobrivoje (Dobro) made certain Jovan (who would go on to become a professional soccer goalkeeper), Milan and Nikola understood and practiced the family customs; stayed true to their lineage.

"When I was a young guy, I was brought up Serbian, even though I'm born in Canada," Lucic explains. "It's a big part of my life, my heritage - the culture.

"I spoke the language growing up, celebrated Serbian Easter, Serbian Christmas, Family Saint Day. All of that.

"That was important to my parents, so it's important to me.

"My wife has been fantastic about sharing it with me, embracing that part of my life."

Which is why this past summer's family vacation junket, with Brittany and kids Valentina, Nikolina and the youngest, Milan Jr. - a lengthy 10,330-kilometre journey between the Lucic home base of Manhattan Beach, Calif., and Serbian capital Belgrade - resonated so strongly.



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