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by Staff Writer / New York Islanders
Defenseman finished T-7th in NHL with +29 in 2003-04
Defenseman Brad Lukowich, who finished tied for 7th in the NHL with a plus-minus ratio of +29 as a member of the 2003-04 Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning, has signed a two-year contract with the Islanders.
The 6-1, 200-pound defenseman, originally selected by the Islanders in the fourth round of the 1994 draft, also won a Stanley Cup with the Dallas Stars in 1999. Last season with Tampa Bay he was 5-14-19 in 79 regular season games, averaged 18:45 icetime and his +29 was tied for seventh in the league (ironically, with Adrian Aucoin). Lukowich also had two assists in 18 playoff games. He joins recent additions Alexei Zhitnik and Brent Sopel as newcomers to the Islanders' blueline.
"In so many ways, Brad was what we were looking for to fill out our defense," said Islanders general manager Mike Milbury. "He's reliable and plays with a lot of passion. He's got tons of character. He also has two Stanley Cup rings and really wanted to be an Islander. There's nothing not to like."
Reached at home this morning, the Cranbrook, B.C. native was emotional about finally playing for the team that drafted him, which also happened to be his favorite team growing up.
"It's still sinking in," said Lukowich. "I feel like I'm a pretty lucky guy. The Islanders are the team I've always wanted to play for since I saw Smitty (Billy Smith) and the rest of the legends beat the Flames in Calgary when I was a kid. I was proud to be drafted by them and -- although it took a while -- even prouder that I'm finally here.
"I've had the chance to be part of two great teams in Dallas and last year in Tampa Bay and those are experiences I can take with me to Long Island. I look at the Islanders the way I saw our team in Tampa Bay -- as a team on the verge of something great. I feel I'm a good fit for Coach Stirling because the guys like Zhitnik, Sopel and (Janne) Niinimaa can really move the puck. Especially from the European vets who know the style of play, I know I'll learn a few things from them about how to play without the red line."
In 373 games, Lukowich is 15-48-63 with 257 penalty minutes and a career plus-minus of +47. Brad is the son of former NHLer Bernie Lukowich, who played for Pittsburgh and St. Louis. His cousin Morris played for Winnipeg, Boston and Los Angeles. "I always thought the Islanders thing was fate," said Brad, "because the best man at my parents' wedding was Lorne Henning."
Now he's an Islander and ready for the rivalry, sort of. "I spent a lot of the lockout back in Texas, skating with Mike Modano, Billy Guerin and a bunch of the guys," Lukowich said. "Believe it or not, the rink we played in was called Addison Square Garden."
For more on Lukowich, here's a good read from the Hockey Hall of Fame website on what he did with his two tours of the Stanley Cup:
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